It time to pursue more efficient investment policies in all natural monopolies, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said at the opening of the discussion on the investment program for railways for 2002 at a government meeting. The Prime Minister pointed out that the government's economic program pays substantial attention to the reforms to natural monopolies, such as the energy industry and railroads. "We have begun to test the mechanisms for coordination of tariff policies, a single tariff agency has been established, and the calculations will be made in one place soon," the Prime Minister stated. He added that the tariff policy for 2002 would be considered at the next meeting (of the Cabinet), which will allow for making the economic situation more predictable. Concerning the expenditures on investments, he remarked that along with increasing the efficiency of the management of property, the investment policy should be aimed at reducing costs and avoiding non-productive expenditures. "A very tangible issue is what the money received from individual and industrial consumers as tariffs is spent on," Kasyanov pointed out. He remarked on the necessity of creation of a developed railroad infrastructure and guarantees of safety of transportation. According to him, given the large territory of Russia, the density of the railway network should be optimum so as to support efficient supplies of goods to all sectors of the economy. "Taking into account the scale of Russia, railway transport is the core of the transport infrastructure in general," the Prime Minister underlined. Kasyanov reported that the investment programs for the energy industry, including nuclear energy, and the gas industry would be discussed at government meetings in December.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land