Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov did not rule out that Russia might turn toa surplus-free budget over the next several years. He mentioned thispossibility today, at the opening of a Cabinet meeting devoted to the 2003budget draft. According to Kasyanov, a budget surplus is not a goal but anecessity in a certain economic development period."A surplus means that a country is taking more from its economy thannecessary, and a question arises on how efficiently we redistribute thesefunds," Kasyanov was quoted as saying. He added, "We need a budget surplusonly for debt payments." Next year will be a period of top debt paymentsfor Russia and it needs a surplus to fulfill its obligations, the PrimeMinister said. At the same time, he stated, "Do we need a surplus, or is ittime to lower the tax burden instead?" Kasyanov mentioned that a reductionin the tax burden would allow the private sector to finance expendituresthat the state was unable to finance efficiently by redistributing budgetrevenues.Kasyanov reported that the level of non-interest expenditures (budgetexpenditures except for debt payments) remained high and made up 13 percentof the GDP. "This is a limit that we cannot surpass," he stressed and notedthat, on the other hand, the state could not give up its obligations..