PREMIER WILL HEAR OUT EVERYONE, OPPOSITION INCLUDED

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PREMIER VLADIMIR PUTIN WILL DISCUSS BUDGET PARAMETERS WITH PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION

Amended budget is to be discussed with leaders of parliamentary factions.


Analogous meetings with all Duma factions took place before the budget hearing in the lower house of the parliament last autumn. Putin met with whole factions as such then but it is only leaders of parliamentary faction that he will meet with this time. Which is probably reasonable. It is not adoption of the budget that is to be discussed but amendment of the document.

Putin met with United Russia faction leaders and chairmen of economic committees of the Duma last Friday. Clearly unwilling to rely on the ever obedient and tame United Russia in so serious a matter, the premier decided to have some alternative opinions aired as well.

Communists have been making preparations for the meeting with the premier for a fortnight already. When President Dmitry Medvedev was meeting with leaders of Duma factions in late January, CPRF leader Gennadi Zyuganov disclosed some of the anti-crisis initiatives. It is now the premier’s turn to get acquainted with what Communists came up with.

According to CPRF faction deputy Vadim Soloviov, the anti-crisis program charted by the Communist Party is focused on three premises. Support of the real economy is the first. “State assistance to the banking sector failed to live up to the expectations (in terms of yield, that is). Banks offer credits at the interest rate enterprises cannot really afford,” Soloviov said. “It is therefore necessary to turn on the mechanisms of funding enterprises directly.” The lawmaker said it would be all right for the state to get some stock in the subsidized enterprises in return for the aid.

The second premise comes down to the necessity of better funding of the programs that stipulate new jobs and job retraining for the unemployed. “The sums set aside for the purpose are insignificant and absolutely inadequate from the standpoint of the actual scope of the unemployment. We believe that doles and pensions should be upped,” Soloviov said. (He referred to the soaring food prices and diminishing income of the population.) Emergency aid to the agricultural complex constitutes the third premise.

As for the budget deficit, the CPRF suspects that it may reach 15%. (Putin assured United Russia functionaries last Friday that deficit of the amended federal budget would remain below the US budget deficit estimated at 12%.)

Fair Russia and LDPR faction leaders are still waiting for the invitation to the premier. As a matter of fact, they expect it in the near future. Fair Russia functionaries have been pining for a meeting since last autumn, since the day this political party published its own anti-crisis program. This program suggested a 10% reduction of the VAT and taxes and some social support measures the government turned down.

Fair Russia is upset by what it calls plagiarism. It says that United Russia steals its ideas that are first dismissed and then suggested to the Duma by the ruling party itself. “We need copyright legislation for legal initiatives,” Oksana Dmitriyeva (Fair Russia faction) said.

A meeting with the premier will offer Fair Russia an opportunity to complain against the government that dismisses their initiatives out of hand and against United Russia that presents Fair Russia’s ideas as its own.

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