Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 25, 2002, EV

The State Duma intends to begin its debates on the 2003 draft budget today. There will probably be no sensations, and the Duma will adopt the document in the first reading. The deputies are heeding the requests of the Cabinet to pass the draft budget without re-shaping its key national measures. However, it doesn’t mean that the deputies will not fight for some amendments in the course of further work on the budget.

The federal government’s policy concerning the regions will be the main point at issue between the legislative and executive authorities. Different public and political groups criticized the Cabinet for this question. The present wage problems in the regions could have deep political and social consequences. Even if we exclude the populist element, the reproaches concerning the budget revenue distribution are absolutely justified.

In the Duma’s opinion, the government didn’t compensate the regions for losses, connected with the cancellation of the road use tax, and also deprived them of cigarette excise revenues. Moreover, the government divided the incomes between the federal treasury and regions in the proportion of 60% to 40%.

According to Alexander Nazarov, representative of Chukotka in the Federation Council, the government doesn’t provide in the draft budget for any extra financial subsidies for the wage payments to state-sector workers. The National Economic Council proposed yesterday to hand 15% of revenue from value added tax to the regions.

Another item for the parliamentary discussion is the question concerning the state investments. According to Head of Budget and Tax Committee Alexander Zhukov, the main shortcoming of the budget project is the insignificant means, assigned for the development. Zhukov stated yesterday that the government is unable to follow the active investment policy. It is true that the increase of the state investments is insignificant. The appropriated $1.5 billion made up 0.4% of the GDP and 2.5% of the supply.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 25, 2002, EV

Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES) intends to join the European electrical energy system. According to its plans, the condition of availability for service will be reached to April 2004. However, it doesn’t mean that the parallel functioning of our and European energies will begin at this very moment. The dates of the real synchronization have not been determined yet.

President of Sysop-TsDU RJES public corporation Victor Pauli stated yesterday that only political reasons hamper to join the European energy systems, because Russia isn’t a member of the EU. According to Yuri Kutcherov, head of the RJES Department of Scientific and Technical Policy and Development, the synchronization is a bilateral process and it is necessary to have an agreement with the other side. Although, it is clear that the first pretender to the synchronization is Finland.

According to the western experts’ appraisal, Russia should spend about $80-100 billion on the modernization of 50 units and automation systems.