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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier Calls for Push On Budget, Revenues

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on Friday called for a renewed push to boost government revenues and pass the 1998 budget, accusing lawmakers of endless delays in adopting the budget plan.


Speaking to senior Finance Ministry officials as he introduced newly appointed Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov, Chernomyrdin said increasing revenue collections was the ministry's most important task. "There's no justification for a finance minister if this isn't done,'' he said.


Russia's government has struggled to boost budget revenues, but an outdated and bureaucratic tax code, combined with rampant evasion and debts throughout the economy, has left collections far below targets.


Chernomyrdin also accused opposition lawmakers of "artificially drawing out'' the budget adoption process.


The lower house of Russia's parliament, the State Duma, voted Thursday to delay consideration of the budget until early December.


Chernomyrdin said the government and legislators had come to a compromise over the plan, which was to be the centerpiece of the government's economic reform program next year.


"And then suddenly this decision,'' Chernomyrdin said, warning that the delay could cost the government 50 trillion rubles ($8.5 billion).


"We're obliged to pass it in the first reading in December,'' he added. "This is the continuation of economic reforms ... the most realistic budget we've ever proposed to the Duma.''


With the 1998 budget held up in parliament, the government began preparing a stop-gap spending plan for January. Chernomyrdin ordered the government to draft the plan roughly in accordance with 1997 spending patterns, Interfax reported.


The budget was to have come up for a vote Friday, but Communist and other opposition legislators pushed for more time to revise it. The motion to delay consideration was passed by a vote of 258-44 Thursday.


The Duma has been delaying the budget while pressuring President Boris Yeltsin to fire Chernomyrdin's first deputy, Anatoly Chubais, the Cabinet's top economic policy-maker who is involved in a political scandal