The State Duma passed amendments to the law on the Russian tax system concerning the sales tax on the second reading today. According to the passed amendments, the sales tax can be set by regional parliamentarians at a level not higher than 5 per cent. This tax can be imposed on sales of goods and services paid in cash or by banking transfers. Basic foods, housing and communal services and some other services connected with culture and arts will be exempted from sales tax. These amendments will be valid until January 1, 2004. They were supported by 388 deputies and 2 voted against them with 1 abstention.