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Putin orders ministers to cut through red tape

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered his cabinet to speed up the proceess of cutting red tape and bureaucracy for ordinary citizens ­ and ministers said that lax officials could be fined for making people wait in line too long.

"We have to perfect electronic government services so that people don't have to take papers from agency to agency," Putin said in the beginning of Thursday's cabinet meeting.

Reporting on progress already made in the field, Communications Minister Igor Schegolev said that changes would go into effect as of this coming summer.

"By July 1 it will be forbidden to ask citizens to provide information that is already inside the government database," he told the Prime Minister.

New problems for old?

Putin told him to keep up the pace, but warned officials that he was under the impression that some efforts to cut red tape were actually creating new problems for businesses even as they were resolving old ones.

Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said that while regulations were already in place, in many cases people were still waiting in line for twice as long as regulations allowed. The reason was that lax officials weren't being held responsible, she told journalists after the cabinet meeting.

"We are proposing changes that would stipulate this responsibility ­ and introduce fines up to 5000 rubles, which is up to 20 or 30 percent of the official's salary," she said.

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