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Russia: Tax Collections Up, Inflation Down

Moscow, August 1 (RFE/RL) -- Tax collections are rising and revenues are running much closer to budget in the first 25 days of July, officials of the Russian State Tax Service say.

Andrei Ilyini, the head of the department of collection, is quoted by Interfax Financial Information Agency as saying 12.9 trillion (million, million) rubles have come in as taxes and other payments so far in July, about 81 percent of budget expectations.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted an unnamed spokesman for the service as saying revenues have hit 19.9 trillion rubles, or 97 percent of budget. All agree that tax revenues began to rise in June.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) sources in Washington say that whichever figure is correct, the trend is welcome and will be checked by the fund's review team when it returns to Moscow this month. Approval of the review will allow the fund to release the July disbursement of about $300 million from Russia's extended loan.

The IMF has been warning Russian authorities that tax collections, which were running at around 50 percent of budget, must improve quickly or the government's entire economic reform program would be jeopardized.

Meantime, the State Statistics Committee says inflation dropped to a monthly rate of 0.7 percent in July, the lowest rate since the start of reforms in 1992. At the July rate, the full-year rate of inflation would be 20 percent, compared to 131 percent last year.

Continued low inflation and improved tax collections are key parts of Moscow's reform plan agreed to get IMF loans.