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BBC Monitoring
Russian Government Aims to Move Away From Traditional Structure
Source: Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 0900 gmt 20 Feb 03

Presenter: The question of how Russia's economy will develop over the next few years is being discussed by the government today. In five years' time annual economic growth should effectively double to 7 or 8 per cent, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said when he opened the meeting.

Here with the latest details from Government House is our correspondent Tatyana Shilina. She's live on the air. Tatyana:

Correspondent: The Russian government is today discussing how the country will develop over the next three years. The document the ministers are looking at is entitled the "Programme for the country's social and economic development to the year 2005". Commenting on the results of the past year, head of government Mikhail Kasyanov said that generally the situation was not bad and there was 4-per-cent annual growth. At the same time, he doesn't thinks this is enough. The problem is that the oil, gas and refining industries make the greatest contribution to the economy, accounting for around 20 per cent of its structure. In other words, we are continuing the tradition of living primarily off exports.

Kasyanov: Dependency on exports, traditional exports, is extremely great, it really is. This means that, given the current favourable situation on the foreign markets, we have 4-per-cent growth. If that situation wasn't favourable or normal and stable, the rate would be 1.5 or 2 per cent. Therefore, given the current economic structure, we are doomed at best to growth rates of between 1 and 4 per cent. There is no doubt that the global tasks facing the economy cannot be performed with this economic structure.

Correspondent: According to the prime minister, this bias must be corrected and this is why the medium-term programme exists and why it is needed. Its task is to change the structure of the economy to favour agriculture, services and the processing industries. If this happens, it will be possible to expect annual economic growth of 7-8 per cent in the next few years.

It has to be said, however, that the programme's main focus is on the social sphere. Experts assert that if it is implemented there will be a perceptible change for the better in Russian people's living standards over the next two or three years. Wages, for example, will rise by nearly 25 per cent, and pensions by almost 10 per cent, while by contrast there will be a substantial decline in the poverty level.

In addition, the programme envisages a number of reforms. These include reform of the natural monopolies, the housing and utilities complex, budget and tax policy and much more which overall is intended to make the Russian economy more open.

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