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# PRIME MINISTER ASKS STATE DUMA TO RAPIDLY CONSIDER AMENDMENTS TO TAX CODE #

MOSCOW, April 19 (RIA Novosti) - The State Duma (the lower house of parliament) committee on budgets and taxes recommended at its Monday session that the government amendments to the law "On Customs Tariff" and part 2 of the Russian Tax Code related to increasing the severance tax (NDPI) be adopted in the first and third, final, readings at one and the same time.

The governmental draft law proposes that the NDPI be increased from 347 rubles to 400 rubles per one ton of oil ($1 equals approximately 28.5 rubles), reported representative of the finance ministry Sergei Shatalov at the session of the committee.

In addition, the document proposes that the export duty on the crude oil be corrected.

Shatalov stressed that if the proposals of the government were adopted the aggregate tax burden on the oil industry would make up $900 million with the price at $24 per barrel of Urals oil blend, $2 billion with the price at $27 per barrel and $3.3 billion with the price at $30 per barrel.

Shatalov also stressed that if oil cost $18 per barrel the tax burden on the oil industry would not change compared to the present one. But if the cost of oil fell lower than $18 per barrel the tax burden would be even lower than now.

The government representative pointed out that the draft law should be adopted as soon as possible so that an opportunity appear to introduce new oil export duties on August 1, 2004 and a new NDPI tariff on January 1, 2005.

Shatalov believes the adoption of the law "will not directly influence the prices of petroleum products since they are determined by the market." The committee is going to consider the government proposals at a plenary session on April 23.

The above mentioned draft law is included in the package of the government proposals on the tax reform.

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