GRANTS FOR PRIVILEGES: WELFARE COSTS TO GROW 26-FOLD

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MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - Welfare expenditures on seniors will grow 26-fold, and on limited-abilities persons nine-fold as Russia replaces social privileges with money grants, said Tatiana Golikova, Deputy Finance Minister. She was addressing the media after debates on a respective bill with the United Russia, parliamentary majority group.

At present, seniors are entitled to a monthly average 50 rubles, if we calculate the costs of their social privileges in monetary form, and disabled persons to 112 rubles. Last year's regional welfare expenditures on seniors and limited-abilities persons amounted to a lump 27.4 billion rubles, roughly $900 million. The federal Cabinet has earmarked 171.8 billion rubles for monetary grants as they come up instead of privileges-incomparably more than regions are spending on social welfare now. That is why the Cabinet does not think it will comply with parliamentarians' demands to increase prospective grants for certain categories of people on the welfare, said Ms. Golikova.

"We have increased grants, as it is. That will be quite enough unless people in the provinces are swindling us with their reports.

"The Cabinet would never dare to make such huge extra welfare payments in a year's matter if it were not sure Russia can afford it, and make indexations later on," she pointed out.

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