GOVERNMENT: HIGHER EARNINGS FOR POPULATION THIS YEAR

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MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian leadership sees one of its priorities in 2005 as ensuring higher earnings for the population, reports a government source.

"For us, task No.1 in 2005 is the growth of people's incomes through an increase in minimal wages, pensions and public sector salaries," said the source.

"The government plans thus to enhance the prosperity of the population and to step up the consumer demand," noted the source.

Among other priorities for 2005, he named introduction of strategies developing individual economic sectors, perfecting anti-monopoly legislation and supporting small and medium business.

Besides, the Russian government plans to stir up mortgage crediting-for this, the size of government guarantees on bonds and borrowings from the Mortgage Agency will be increased in 2006. These measures will provide housing in accordance with mortgage schemes for about 1 million people by 2010.

There are prospects to develop the innovation sphere, in particular support for the development of innovation and venture funds.

The government also intends to take measures this year to improve tax administration as well as to facilitate the tax burden, including lower VAT rates.

Other targets to be set not only this year but also in 2006-2007 include support for exports and some measures to step up economic growth.

The government will ponder more over the introduction of medical and educational standardized schemes, said the source. There are also plans of transition to new budgetary planning and compilation of budget estimates orientated toward at results.

The cabinet of ministers is expected to work out strategies for individual industries and other program documents that provide for a complex link between ultimate performance and sources of financing.

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