In order to have a normal payment balance, the budget surplus should reach 1.5 percent of the GDP, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia Oleg Vyugin stated. According to him, it is necessary to level risks, which can be brought about by fluctuations of world oil prices. He emphasized that the Russian economy "is not strong enough to have a zero payment balance". Vyugin pointed out that it would be too early for Russia to turn down a surplus budget in the near future.
In the opinion of Vyugin, "the 2003 budget is a step back from the point of view of preserving the protection from external shocks". However, one should keep in mind that 2003 is the peak year for repaying state foreign debts. This is why the financial plans for 2004 and 2005 will be most demonstrational for the state budget policy, the official stressed.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was surprised to know that the Serbs had not forgiven the alliance for bombing their country. Mr. Stoltenberg wants to now why the ungrateful people did not appreciate NATO's aggression