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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin, Duma in Fight Over 2001 Budget

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov met with parliamentary leaders on Tuesday to discuss complaints that the government’s 2001 budget is too tight considering the country’s expected high oil revenues next year.

Many deputies in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, appear encouraged by the rising prices of oil — Russia’s main export — and the moderate growth of Russia’s economy over the past months. They say the government’s draft budget should be revised to increase spending next year.

The draft budget projects revenues of 1.19 trillion rubles ($40 billion), but lawmakers have said real earnings would exceed that estimate by about 150 billion rubles ($5.2 billion).

Sergei Glazyev, a senior Communist economist and head of the Duma’s economic policy committee, said the draft was unacceptable because it aimed only to repay state debt and ignored social issues and investment in domestic industry. "We do not recommend the State Duma approve the budget. It includes measures that do not correspond to the targets of further economic growth … and social protection," Glazyev told Ekho Moskvy radio.

The dispute marked the first significant disagreement between President Vladimir Putin’s government and the Duma. Lawmakers are scheduled to hold the first vote on the budget on Friday, and failure to resolve the dispute before then could set back the government’s attempts to push through Russia’s first balanced budget in a decade.

"We want the government to clearly formulate the principles according to which it will distribute extra revenues, if there are any," said Boris Gryzlov, head of the pro-government Unity faction.

However, he said his faction would vote for the budget in any event.