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Russia: Duma Slams Government On Budget, Taxes

Moscow, 23 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian State Duma today asked ministers to take active measures to combat tax evasion and condemned the government's inability to meet its 1996 budget plans.

Legislators unanimously approved a resolution criticizing the government. Legislators said the government's effort to reduce inflation is being carried out despite falling gross domestic product and investment and the worsening of companies' financial situations. The Duma concluded that the government's policy is deepening the economic crisis.

Last week the Duma rejected the government's 1997 budget plans, criticizing as "over-optimistic" the government's revenue forecasts and as "inadequate" the funding for investment and social protection.

Finance Minister Alexander Livshits today told the Duma that the government had collected only some 71 percent of planned taxes so far this year.

The Duma resolution asked the government to cancel customs and tax privileges, prepare a list of federal property, including property abroad, and work out measures to stimulate tax collection. It also recommended that the government attract foreign funds to finance the budget deficit and start declaring tax dodgers bankrupt. The Duma also compiled a list of 73 of Russia's biggest corporate tax dodgers.

The Russian government has set up a new commission to discuss measures on how to collect tax arrears. It held its first meeting yesterday. Ministers said the government will start bankruptcy proceedings against four big corporate tax debtors.