The Russian government approved a budget draft for 2003, which will beintroduced to the State Duma before August 26, 2002, Russian Deputy PrimeMinister and Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin told reporters at a briefingafter a government meeting. The Finance Minister was quoted as saying thebudget for 2003 envisages the planned reduction of the tax burden of alltaxpayers, which will facilitate the operation of the real sector of theRussian economy, in particular, give an opportunity to private companies toinvest in their production facilities and increase staff. Additionally, thebudget is mapped out so as to guarantee its implementation "under differenteconomic scenarios", Kudrin stressed. The Deputy Prime Minister also pointed out the budget would be oriented onan optimistic scenario on the whole. "But we should be prepared to face anysituation, especially in view of the fact that our economy depends, amongother things, on external factors", the Finance Minister pointed out. Hewas quoted as saying the average dollar exchange rate will hover aroundRUR30.7 throughout the next year, while the inflation rate will not exceed12 percent. Kudrin added while developing the budget for 2003, the Russiangovernment had stuck to the policy of non-increasing expenditures, but asfor the top-priority industries, the expenditures earmarked for them in the2003 budget had been increased as compared to the figure for this year. .