The approval of an investment program of the gas industry for 2002 was postponed until January 20, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister of the Russian Federation Andrey Sharonov declared at a briefing today. According to him, the government made a decision today to make a list of companies "without any problems," which will be involved in the investment program. This list is supposed to be prepared by January 10, 2002 and approved by the government on January 20. Talking about companies with problems, all disagreements are to be resolved by March 1, 2002. According to Sharonov, the difference in the volumes of investment programs suggested by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and Gazprom makes 20bn rubles, i.e. the Ministry suggested the program to cost 140bn rubles and Gazprom - 161bnrubles. The official was quoted as saying that the Board of Directors of the gas giant had approved a 2002 budget of the company with a 92bn-ruble deficit. Thus, the Ministry made a proposal to "find ways of reducing this deficit by means of cutting investments and increasing tariffs."
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