Source Pravda.Ru

No drastic changes expected in 2003 budget

On the eve of the 2003 draft budget's consideration by the State Duma /lower house/, a high-profile source in the Russian government stated that parliament would not make any serious amendments in the 2003 draft budget.

The source remarked that positions had already been coordinated with parliamentarians, including by Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. Most of their recommendations have been taken into account, chiefly the ones dealing with changes in the tax base and tax revenues of the regions.

As regards the document's consideration in parliament, the government largely counts on the centrist factions.

As to the problem of foreign debt reimbursement in 2003, the dignitary said that provided the oil price is 21.5 dollars per barrel, everything will go down smoothly, and the projected budget surplus will be left even for 2004. At the same time, ministries and departments are drawing up a set of measures to be taken in case of a different scenario.

The source laid particular stress on the fact that the 2003 budget has so far been balanced and stipulated no need for foreign loans. He recalled that the government had a set of various levers at its disposal to repay debts on time and in full. Therefore the cabinet is quite calm and confident despite the fact that 2003 is expected to be a difficult year but the government will keep an eye on the developing situation.

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