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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2002 Budget Set for Easy 1st Reading

The 2002 draft budget is set to sail smoothly through a first parliamentary reading, but could encounter difficulties in the second, more detailed reading, government and parliament officials said Thursday.

"All the main [parliament] factions have confirmed they agree with the budget concept," Itar-Tass quoted Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin as telling reporters ahead of a Friday first reading at the State Duma. "Adoption of the budget will be a new stage in Russia's financial life because a planned surplus and a financial reserve will be approved," Interfax quoted him as saying.

The blueprint sets 2002 revenues at 2.13 trillion rubles ($72.45 billion at current rates) and the surplus at 178.3 billion rubles, or 1.63 percent of gross domestic product.

The government this week agreed to Duma requests to increase revenue targets by 127.3 billion rubles. New funds will be distributed between domestic needs and a financial reserve accumulating cash for debt payments in 2003.

Deputies saw the 450-member Duma overwhelmingly supporting the draft. It needs 226 votes to pass the first reading.

They expected the Communists and Agrarians to vote against, though both say they might not demand faction members vote as a bloc.

"One could guess at 270 votes in favor," said Lyubov Sliska, first deputy speaker and a member of pro-Kremlin Unity faction.

Liberal Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky warned about the second reading that distributes spending for specific articles, while Vyacheslav Volodin, leader of the centrist Fatherland faction, also said his party was unhappy about some spending. The second reading is set for Oct. 19.