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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

'S' Liberalization

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Central Bank will rule within a month on the liberalization of so-called "S" accounts, holding billions of foreign investors' dollars that were frozen after the 1998 domestic bond market crisis, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Oleg Vyugin, first deputy Central Bank chairman, also told the business daily that unlocking the accounts, estimated at more than 100 billion rubles ($3.19 billion), would not translate into a massive departure of funds.

"Today the financial situation is nowhere near to crisis. On top of that, unfreezing of 'S' accounts is not a synonym for withdrawal of all the funds," Vyugin said.

KamAZ in Afghanistan

MOSCOW (MT) -- Flagship truck maker KamAZ shipped 50 trucks to Afghanistan Monday, the first installment of an Afghan government order worth $600,000, the company said in a press release.

KamAZ is to ship an additional 87 trucks by the end of May. The company estimates Afghanistan will need an additional 2,400 trucks in the next three to 3 1/2 years.

The contract was the result of a protocol agreement signed by KamAZ and Afghan officials during interim leader Hamid Karzai's visit to Russia in March.

Before the Taliban took power, Afghanistan was one of KamAZ's largest export destinations. The company hopes to resurrect its dealership and service-center network there.

$74M Wage Arrears

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Public-sector wage arrears amounted to 2.3 billion rubles ($74 million) as of April 1, according to an Audit Chamber report released at the meeting of the chamber's board Monday.

Total accumulated debt, including unpaid fines and penalties for wage delays, reached 11.4 billion rubles as of April 1, the report says.

The auditors' investigation into regional governments' financials showed that federal budget subsidies to help cope with an average 60 percent increase in public-sector wages were fully paid on time.

In May, the Audit Chamber forecasts wage arrears at 1.8 billion rubles and total debt with penalties and fines at 10.3 billion rubles.

Inflation Forecast

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Annual cumulative inflation is expected to amount to 10 percent to 12 percent in 2003, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Oleg Vyugin said in an interview with Vedomosti published Monday.

Vyugin also said the ruble was expected to stand at about 33.0 against the dollar by the end of this year.

His earlier forecast was 33 to 34 rubles per dollar. However, Vyugin said he saw the ruble having more chance to appreciate in real terms as oil prices remain stable at about $24 per barrel, a level favorable for Russia.

Vodka Leaps 28%

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Vodka output is expected to total 135 million decaliters this year, up 28 percent year-on-year, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said in a report Monday.

Russia's ethylene output is projected to increase 1.8 percent year-on-year in 2002 to 67 million decaliters, the ministry said.

The ministry expects vodka and ethylene output to total 60 million decaliters and 33 million decaliters in the first half of 2002, up 4.7 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

Alfa Bonds Mulled

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Alfa Finance, an affiliate of Alfa Bank, plans to issue five-year domestic bonds worth 1 billion rubles ($32 million) in June, Lyudmila Khrapchenko, a senior official with Alfa Bank said Monday.

She said the bonds would carry semiannual coupons with yields of about 18 percent. The bonds would be guaranteed by Alfa Bank, which will offer the bondholders a buyback option, Khrapchenko said.

Car Output Up 2%

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Car output is expected to total 1.042 million vehicles this year, up 2 percent year on year, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said in a report Monday.

The ministry expects car output to total 503,000 vehicles in the first half of 2002, up 1.4 percent year on year.

Truck output is projected to be at 175,000 vehicles in 2002, up 1.2 percent on the year and 80,000 vehicles in the first half of this year.

Car output rose 5.4 percent year on year in 2001, to 1.021 million vehicles.

Joint Venture Wiped

ZAPOROZHYE, Ukraine (Prime-Tass) -- The annual general meeting of Ukrainian-South Korean joint car manufacturing venture AvtoZAZ-Daewoo has approved Daewoo's proposal to liquidate the venture, AvtoZAZ said Monday.

The liquidation is in line with Daewoo's decision to withdraw from the venture on the grounds that the sales of 38,000 cars per year required to turn a profit are far from attainable.

The $300 million AvtoZAZ-Daewoo venture was formed on the basis of the then-stagnating compact car producer AvtoZAZ. Ukraine contributed its 50 percent stake by providing production facilities, while Daewoo made a $150 million monetary investment.

RTS Up Slightly

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Stocks inched up Monday, led by oil major LUKoil, which gained on analyst upgrades, but investor focus shifted to telecoms and utilities amid softer world oil prices, traders said.

The benchmark RTS index closed 0.72 percent up at 405.79 points on turnover of $17.9 million, with trade largely driven by local players, brokers said.

The Reuters index of the ruble-based MICEX exchange rose to end 2.14 percent higher at 1,770.78 on turnover of 3.9 billion rubles ($125 million). MICEX extended its late trading session by one hour until 6 p.m. from Monday.