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    RUSSIA ENTERS 2004 WITH BUDGET SURPLUS OF 1.7%

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    MOSCOW, January 6, 2004. /RIA Novosti/ -- On Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

    Kasyanov briefed Putin on additional results of the country's financial and economic policy in 2003, President's Press-Secretary Alexei Gromov reported.

    "The budget's planned incomes have been exceeded and amounted to 101 percent," Kasyanov said. Thus, the budget was fulfilled with a surplus of 1.7 percent of the GDP, he explained.

    After the results of the 2003 budget's fulfillment, a stabilization fund was set up with an initial sum of over 100 billion roubles (over $3.3 billion), the Prime Minister pointed out.

    "The inflation rate equaled 12.0 percent, as was forecasted," he added.

    By the end of January the Cabinet will endorse a package of measures to fulfill the law on the 2004 federal budget, Kasyanov said.

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