ENCOURAGE PRIVATE BUSINESS, DUMA SPEAKER CALLS MPs MOSCOW, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Legislative work of the Russian parliament must promote small and medium-scale business, said Speaker Boris Gryzlov of the State Duma, lower house, while in conference with spokesmen of the federal Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Moscow today.

Small and medium-scale private companies currently account for a mere 15 per cent of Russia's gross domestic product, as against 40 or even 60 per cent in Western countries, he warned.

Progress of private enterprise in Russia-in particular, softer taxation and removal of administrative obstacles-closely depends on its legislature, stressed Mr. Gryzlov.

Evgeni Primakov, Chamber president, spoke up, in his turn, for explicit government policies of industrial progress. Russia cannot move ahead while it depends on re-exports. Domestic factors of economic progress, mainly industry, deserve greater attention than what they have now. Industry is among top priorities of Russian economic development, he pointed out.

Mr. Primakov called parliamentarians to join hands with the Chamber staff for debates on bills entrepreneurs are proposing to promote small and medium-scale private enterprise, and industry in general. As he sees it, such debates ought to have a zero reading status, with officers of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce coming as experts.

Evgeni Primakov also called to ease off the entrepreneurial tax burden. "What we need is political stability and further economic progress. We shall attain those goals if we encourage small and medium-scale business thus to buttress Russia's emergent middle class," he said.

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