The State Duma will approve the 2002 federal budget draft on the second reading on October 19. Chairman of the parliament's lower house Gennady Seleznyov expressed his opinion in an interview with journalists and stressed that the second reading would be tougher than the first one. Among the hottest issues is a possible increase of he road fund. In addition, Seleznyov stressed the importance of the idea of exempting medicines from value-added tax. "It is necessary to consider this issue together with the budget draft, to avoid a 20% value-added tax on medicines," he added. The volume of social compensations budgeted for the next year are "too small," he stressed. In Seleznov's opinion, it is necessary to have the government exempt medicines from the value-added tax. Otherwise they ill increase in price by 40%. "Our people are unable to pay such an amount of money on medicines," the official said and emphasized that the government holds consultations on this issue now.
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