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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cabinet, Duma Move Toward Compromise on IMF Tax Bills

The government and lawmakers said Tuesday they were moving toward a compromise on a package of austerity bills needed for Russia to qualify for a vital International Monetary Fund loan.

Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin's Cabinet needs the austerity bills passed this month before the State Duma goes on a summer recess. Otherwise, it could significantly delay the disbursement of a $4.5 billion IMF loan that the country needs to pay off some of its debts.

But the Duma so far has balked at approval of the tax-raising bills, fearing a backlash from voters.

Last week, lawmakers delayed action on a pivotal bill in the package that introduces a new tax on gas stations. Stepashin responded by threatening to initiate a motion of confidence in the Cabinet.

Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, a Communist, said Tuesday that lawmakers this week were likely to approve a compromise version of the gas stations bill. And Stepashin told reporters that the government and lawmakers had agreed to speed up their work on the package.

"We feel certain that a way out of the situation will be found,'' Stepashin told reporters Tuesday before heading to St. Petersburg for a meeting with IMF chief Michel Camdessus.

Camdessus said in a German newspaper interview that Russia was showing slight signs of an upturn after it was hit by a financial crisis in August 1998 and that its economic performance would form the basis for talks on new loans.

"The money will flow when all the conditions have been fulfilled," Camdessus told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Also Tuesday, Stepashin chaired a meeting of an advisory economic council that discussed an economic forecast for the year 2000 and beyond.

At the talks, the Economics Ministry said if an agreement with creditors is reached, Russia may achieve 1.5 percent to 3 percent growth in the gross domestic product next year.