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Kyrgyz Deputy Premier Optimistic About Economy

First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov (file photo)

First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov predicts that the Kyrgyz economy will grow 6.2 percent this year, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Babanov told RFE/RL in an interview that the parliament would soon adopt the 2011 state budget.

He said after it was passed a special government economic plan would begin in which the government will give 1 billion soms ($21 million) in credits to private and state companies to boost agricultural output in an effort to lower food prices.

Babanov said profitable agreements with Kazakhstan and Russia had helped the Kyrgyz government to lower gasoline prices.

Although Kazakhstan introduced a moratorium on gasoline exports, he said it agreed to sell 10,000 tons of kerosene and 10,000 tons of gasoline to Kyrgyzstan.

Babanov said Kazakhstan also agreed to export 500 tons of corn seed to Kyrgyzstan this year.

He told RFE/RL that companies operating within the so-called shadow economy, especially those illicitly producing alcohol, would be registered and required to pay taxes.

Babanov added that the government would follow through on a pledge to cut costs by reducing the number of government employees this year by 10 percent.

He said schoolteachers' salaries had been raised by 30 percent since January 1, and the salaries of other state employees would be tripled this year.

Babanov is the founder of the Respublika party, which he heads. A wealthy businessman, Babanov, 40, is younger than most other leading politicians in Kyrgyzstan and among the most popular.

Asked about reports that he owns and/or controls some leading Kyrgyz media outlets, Babanov said he currently had nothing to do with any television channels or other media outlets.

Read more in Kyrgyz here