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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IMF: Russia Is Backsliding

The most recent draft of the 1994 budget, unveiled Wednesday, appears to represent backsliding from Russia's agreement with the International Monetary Fund on controlling the deficit and inflation, an IMF official said. "Probably there is a deterioration compared with what we had agreed but the exact amount of the deterioration needs an extensive study," Jean Foglizzo, the head representative of the IMF, said in an interview. The Duma on Wednesday unexpectedly turned down on the final reading a 194.5 trillion ruble spending plan that calls for a 70 trillion ruble deficit. The Duma had previously accepted the budget in preliminary votes, suggesting only a few changes. Russia and the IMF earlier this year had agreed to a deficit equal to 10 percent of gross domestic product and an inflation level of 7 to 9 percent by year-end. Foglizzo said the IMF would not be looking exclusively at the deficit amount, which is only marginally different from previous drafts. He said the IMF was most concerned with how much of the deficit would be in the form of Central Bank credits to the government, the most inflationary method of deficit spending. The full impact of the deficit on inflation is difficult to gauge because many of the fiscal assumptions made in the original negotiations between the IMF and Russia have changed, Foglizzo said. Tax revenues, inflation and industrial production are all lower than had been projected, but the currency is stronger. An IMF team will come to Moscow soon to review the budget. Its findings will likely play a role in Russia's potential to qualify this year for an additional $4.1 billion in IMF loans for which it is eligible under a stand-by agreement. However, former finance Minister Boris Fyodorov said Wednesday that the government may have counted that money on the revenue side of the draft budget. The government in its latest draft said it had budgeted 16.3 trillion rubles in foreign credits for 1994, a sharp increase from previous drafts. "Probably they have budgeted it already," said Fyodorov, referring to the stand-by loan. "The revenue side is very artificial," he said. "When you need more money, you write that more taxes are coming in and more loans are coming in."However, acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin defended the figure. He said the government had received loan offers from foreign governments and international financial institutions that exceeded the 16.3 trillion ruble figure but had only chosen to accept long-term credits that were not tied to a specific use. Moscow Times Staff Writer Sander Thoenes contributed to this report.