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Russia: Chernomyrdin Promises To Solve Wage Arrears

Moscow, 23 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin today promised that the government will take concrete steps in two weeks to resolve the problem of non-payments in the economy.

Chernomyrdin chaired a four-hour cabinet meeting today to discuss the circle of wage arrears which has caused thousands of Russian workers to go for months without pay.

Chernomyrdin criticized Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin for not doing more to solve the problem. He said the government would work more closely with regional leaders to solve the budget crisis.

Chernomyrdin blamed the problem on what he called the "irresponsibility" of enterprises, which he said had failed to pay taxes. He said it was necessary to find an instrument to stimulate tax collection, which last year was well below expectations. Chernomyrdin also said the government should consider reducing the tax burden.

The Russian government's revenue shortfall resulting from low tax collection has caused massive salary arrears and strikes by workers demanding payment of back wages.