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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 30, 1998

30 November 1998
Tatarstan Won't Declare Default On Debts
Valery Sorokin, the director of Tatarstan's Agency on State Debt, said on 27 November that Tatarstan will not declare a default on its external debts. Sorokin made his comments during a briefing to Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers on the downgrading of the republic's long-term currency credit rating by Standard and Poor's (see "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 November 1998). The six-month, $100 million loan was received by Kazan in April. It has an annual interest rate of 6 percent. Sorokin said the financial crisis in Russia, as well as a sharp fall in world oil prices, has delayed the introduction of Eurobonds by Tatarstan on Western markets. Income from the bond emission was expected to be a main source in repaying the loan.

Sorokin said Tatarstan is holding negotiations with a creditors club that includes American and European investors in an effort to restructure the debt. Tatar representatives and creditors, meeting on 20 November in London, decided to create a special body charged with handling negotiations with Tatarstan. On 26 November, Standard and Poor's reportedly told the Tatar delegation that the republic's rating would be restored when a formula on restructuring the debt was approved by creditors.

Tatar Premier Has Not Seen Russia's Draft 1999 Budget
Rustam Minnikhanov said that no one in Tatarstan has seen the draft federal budget that is to be discussed by State Duma on 3 December, Tatar Radio reported. "We don't know what Tatarstan will get under the draft budget," he said. Minnikhanov told a meeting on budget policy in Bogelme on 28 November that it is necessary for Tatarstan to extend the inter-governmental agreement between Tatarstan and Russia, which expires in mid-February. Finance Minister Robert Musin said at the meeting that the state was on pace to collect only 60 percent of projected budget revenues in 1998. He said the sharp drop in oil prices has meant a huge reduction in the amount of income and profit taxes the state will collect this year. The draft 1999 budget for Tatarstan introduces tax breaks to the KamAZ, YelAZ, and Tatneft firms (see "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 November 1998).

Telecommunication Center Opens At Kazan State University
A new telecommunications center that provides access to the Internet opened at Kazan State University on 26 November. The center -- financed with $700,000 from George Soros's Open Society Institute (OSI) -- will allow the university's students and teachers to have free access to the Internet. The Kazan Internet center is the 27th of 33 such centers to be opened at Russian universities under the OSI-funded program. Upon the center's opening, an agreement on further cooperation between Kazan State University and OSI was signed, Tatar media reported.

KamAZ Begins Producing New Dump Truck
Assembly of the first five KamAZ-65115 dump trucks has begun at the Chally truck plant, Tatar television reported. The load capacity of the new model has been increased by 20 percent. Seventy more of the new dump trucks are to be produced by the end of the year. The model was first introduced at Moscow's international auto exhibition, Motor Show-98, this summer.

Compiled by G.Khasanova