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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Urinson: New Budget Unlikely by '98

Russia's Communist-led parliament is likely to drag discussions on the budget at least into mid-December, leaving the country without a budget when 1998 begins, a government official said Wednesday.

"I get the impression that this bargaining is going to continue for a long time," Itar-Tass quoted Deputy Prime Minister Yakov Urinson as saying.

The State Duma, parliament's lower house, twice has put off voting on a compromise version of the 1998 budget. Each time, legislators have said they needed more time to prepare for consideration, but officials charged the opposition was trying to squeeze concessions out of the government.

Passage of the budget also was held up by Duma demands that President Boris Yeltsin oust First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, who was involved in a political scandal ignited by high book fees he and associates had received.

The draft now is scheduled to come up for a vote Dec. 5. But Urinson said Wednesday he expects the Duma to postpone debate at least until after Dec. 11, when a round table of legislative, government and union leaders meets to discuss economic reform policy.

Urinson said he expects the opposition to use the delays in the budget vote to increase leverage at the round table.

He warned that delays in budget passage will prove costly. Under law, if a budget isn't passed by the start of the year, the government is to work from monthly targets equal to one-twelfth of the previous year's budget.

Because the proposed 1998 budget forecasts much lower revenue and spending than this year's, Urinson warned, the interim budget could cost the government 50 trillion to 60 trillion rubles ($ 8.5 billion to $10 billion).

First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, meanwhile, said the government would maintain its economic course despite Chubais' ouster from his post as finance minister.

"The course aimed at intensive work for improving the Russian economy has remained, the course for attracting both Russian and foreign capital is our absolute priority. Nobody is likely to change this course," he said.