RUSSIA: MINISTRIES CALCULATE WELFARE GRANTS

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MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Finance Ministry and Ministry of Health and Social Development will soon be ready with figures on money grants as welfare privileges go, said Tatiana Golikova, Deputy Finance Minister. She was addressing the media after debates with the United Russia, parliamentary majority group, on a bill to transform social privileges into monetary grants.

As the Cabinet sees it, many welfare privileges are to turn into grants since next year's start. "Take a two thousand ruble [monthly] grant, [roughly $70]. Its receiver has the right to enjoy only a part of the sum to retain reduced transport fares and medicine prices. It will all be deduced from the grant," Ms. Golikova exemplified the tentative arrangement.

Persons on the welfare will be entitled to free suburban transport tickets, at a forty ruble nominal each, since next year, as the bill has it. A similar medicine quota may also appear on the bill.

The federal law entitles all population groups on the welfare to reduced medicine prices, while regional bylaws have the privilege for certain categories only. The situation demands patterns unified for all to have equal access to social welfare, pointed out the vice-minister.

The Health Ministry will quite soon offer a welfare concept and coordinate it with the Finance Ministry. A unified option will be ready in the nearest future, she said.

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