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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 17, 1998

17 December 1998
General Motors Joins Alabuga Offshore Zone
The local press quotes the director-general of YelAZ automotive works, Ravil Zaripov, as saying that the price of Chevrolet Blazers produced by the YelAZ-GM venture will be lowered. Recently, General Motors submitted an official application to join the Alabuga offshore zone. According to the offshore zone charter, General Motors will be freed from paying taxes to the Tatarstan budget and will receive favorable terms for currency transfers and imports. Rear-wheel and four-wheel drive Blazers produced in Alabuga currently cost between $17,000-32,000.

Trade Unions Concerned About Level of Average Wage
Chairwoman of trade unions federation Farida Gaynullina said on 16 December that the republican budget for 1999 foresees a 13.2 percent increase in the average wage in Tatarstan and an annual inflation rate of 27 percent. Farida Gaynullina expressed concern that the social situation in Tatarstan will deteriorate as a result of the low level of the average wage. Trade unions leader have suggested that the republican government reconsider the draft budget. According to the draft budget for 1999, which was submitted by President Shaimiev, a government commission will convene every three months to set a wage index in accordance with inflation figures. The index will be non-binding on employers. Wages arrears in Tatarstan currently exceed some 3 billion rubles.

Kazan City's 1998 Budget Overspent
On 16 December, deputies of the Kazan City Council discussed the draft budget for 1999 submitted by the city administration. It was discovered that several construction projects approved by the city administration in 1998 consumed twice the amount of money than had been allotted for that purpose. The deputies demanded that the city administration release information on its expenditures in 1998 and its projects for 1999. Deputy Alexander Semin said that exceeding budget expenditures is the main reason for the increase in the city administration's debts. Deputies said that the 1999 city budget faces a 10 percent deficit.

TURKSOY Memorandum Signed In Kazan
On 16 December, the ministers of culture from the 16 member countries of the TURKSOY (The Permanent Council of Culture Ministers of Turkic-speaking countries) organization signed a memorandum that includes the Kazan Kremlin and the remains of an ancient Bulgar town in the register of the world historical and cultural legacy of UNESCO.

Compiled by I.Nurmi