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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Final Russian Anti-Crisis Plan Due Tuesday




Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov said over the weekend that the government would publish in full its final package of anti-crisis measures - which he called pro-market - on Tuesday.


In an interview Saturday with ORT television, Maslyukov, a Communist and former Soviet central planning chief, defended the plan that has already come under fire from the United States and the International Monetary Fund for increasing the state's role in the economy.


"This is a centrist program; this is a program on the way toward a market economy, socially oriented economy," said Maslyukov, who masterminded the plan, which includes tax breaks for industry and financing from the Central Bank through printing more money. "We just want to correct those mistakes, failures and outrage that had been allowed to happen and put it all on a civilized track."


He made clear, however, that the state role in the economy would increase, especially in managing the state-owned stakes in many enterprises.


Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov set a deadline of Nov. 5 for fine-tuning the plan, approved in general by the Cabinet on Nov. 1. But he said Friday that the plan would be ready next week.


"On Tuesday, the program would be published in its final version, complete with the figures that have been drafted by the government," Maslyukov said. "In 10 days, approximately, we will have a schedule of what has to be done, be it presidential decrees, government resolutions or amendments and draft laws to be approved by parliament."


He said the government would work closely with the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, to provide swift approval of the laws and amendments.


Primakov said last week that the plan was the only way out of Russia's current financial crisis that erupted when the previous government devalued the ruble and froze debt repayments.


Maslyukov said foreign borrowing was crucial for Russia, but made clear the plan also included budget expenditure cuts and "alternative options," such as taking gold credits from producers in case the West did not give Russia money.


"Producers say they now have 65 tons of gold they can give us. We could give this gold to the Central Bank as a credit, to issue bonds," Maslyukov said.


He said he saw cash printing at no more than 15 billion rubles ($1 billion) until the end of the year, adding that a bigger amount could lead to hyperinflation. Some economists say the government had already printed more than that this autumn.


The ruble should not fall below 20, Maslyukov said. "This is the lowest limit. There are no limits for the ruble's rise."


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott has said that repeating previous mistakes on the economy, like printing more money, could only worsen the situation in Russia.


He has called the new plan a retreat from market economy and warned bluntly of "political drift, turmoil and even crackup" in the world's second nuclear power.