RUSSIA TO DRAW FROM STABILISATION FUND TO COPE WITH PENSIONS: PUTIN

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MOSCOW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) - If necessary, Russia can recur to its Stabilisation Fund to cover up a Pension Fund deficit, President Vladimir Putin said, while in conference with Gennadi Batanov, federal Pension Fund chief.

Basic pensions, a federal responsibility, may be short of 74 billion roubles, roughly US$2.5 billion, complained Mr. Batanov, who looks forward to the Stabilisation Fund for help.

That may come true in dire necessity, as an exceptional arrangement-the single one next year's draft federal budget envisages, President Putin remarked to that.

"I hope you'll cope, and we shall not have to recur to it, but we are to envisage the option, to be on the safe side," he added.

Next year's pension indexation is blueprinted at a monthly average 233 roubles, against this year's 248. This year's rises exceeded inflation rates by 3 per cent to repeat the pattern of the two previous years. Next year's inflation is expected to be smaller than now, so pension rises will shrink, too, said Gennadi Batanov.

The Pension Fund is expected to come to January 1 with a sizeable reserve of 97 billion roubles. It will come in handy as unified social taxation rates will drop next year, he went on.

The fund has a 82 billion rouble deficit for the insurance part of pensions, and can afford to compensate it out of the reserves, added Mr. Batanov.

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