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Russia: Government Tries Again On Budget

Moscow, 24 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's government today held a closed meeting to discuss modifications to its 1997 draft budget after parliament rejected the first version last week. Following the meeting, government officials unveiled a new, hastily revised draft version. But the outlines of the new plan showed no major changes.

Deputies, criticizing the original version, had called the government's revenue forecasts "over-optimistic" and the funding for investment and social protection "inadequate".

Russian news agencies report that the new draft shifts some funding to social programs, and mentions a new item for military reform, including some $12 billion to finance cuts in the army.

First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Petrov was quoted as saying that revenues and spending had been slightly cut, while the deficit was unchanged He said some tax preferences from the original plan had been abolished, but some supposed to be cut were restored.

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was reported as telling the government session that the budget must aim at stimulating output.

The draft is expected to go back to parliament in the next few days. A parliamentary committee will work on further revisions before bringing it up for another vote.