The main objective of the Russian government is to ensure an economic growth rate of 7-8% by 2007-2008. According to the government press office, this was announced by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov at a meeting with colleagues from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade on Friday, March 14. He gave the ministry the task of 'working out and substantiating a series of measures for the 2003-2005 period in order to attain this goal.'
Mr Kasyanov emphasised that the ministry's 'main task lies in faster diversification of the economy.' 'Otherwise we will continue to be rocked by the world economy,' he said. The Russian economy is still based on the production of raw materials. 'The economy lacks any kind of diversity' and those industries which are not part of the fuel and energy complex are not capable of competing on the world markets, Mr Kasyanov added. He made it clear that he expected detailed estimates on expenditure from the ministry and not just rough estimates. 'Tell me what the value of the rouble will be, how much the tax cuts will be, how much is needed to support exports and what the economic effects of these measures will be in one or two years from now,' the Prime Minister said. Moreover, all of these calculations will have to be substantiated.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.