INTEREST RATE OF SMALL BUSINESS CREDITING MAY BE CUT

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MOSCOW. March 29 - RIA Novosti. The Economic Development and Trade Ministry insists on lowering the interest rate of crediting for small business in the framework the state Program of Small Businesses to 15 Percent of the Annual Interest in Rubles, Irina Anikina, deputy chief of the ministry's business regulation department said Monday, addressing a meeting of the Council for Support to Small and Middle Business held under the chairmanship of the Speaker of the Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian parliament.)

She said also that after the disbandment of the Ministry for Antitrust Policy and Support for Business this program was handed over to the Economic Development Ministry for improvement.

According to the program, the Russian Bank for Development is to attract up to 3 billion rubles ($1 roughly equals 29 rubles) on the home market in 2004 under state guarantees. After that the bank will grant this money to regional banks with a 12% annual interest. The banks, for their part, will start crediting small businesses at market rates.

"The Economic Development Ministry suggests that the interest rate for end borrowers would be ultimately lowered to 15 percent," Anikina said. The ministry, she said, proposes that the credit obtaining procedure should be streamlined.

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