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    RUSSIA OPTS FOR NEW BANKING STRATEGY

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 11, 2004, /RIA-NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT/ -- The Government of Russia passed a new strategy for expanding the national banking sector. This document will be finalized and submitted for final approval over a 30-day period, First Deputy Minister of Finance Alexei Ulyukayev said here today.

    In his words, the previous similar document, which was okayed two years ago, has now been implemented. At present we must accomplish various other objectives, which have something to do with ensuring fast-paced economic growth, rather than the banking sector's post-crisis stabilization, Ulyukayev noted. He was referring to the August 1998 economic-and-financial melt-down here.

    The new strategy aims to make Russia's banks more competitive, to cut down on sectoral outlays, to simplify the bank-consolidation process and to expand the financial-instrument market.

    The strategy will also specify various parameters of state involvement in the activity of loan agencies, Ulyukayev went on to say. According to Ulyukayev, the state must control specialized banks alone. As far as national banks are concerned, the state will gradually dispose of their stocks. Specific deadlines will be clarified, as we finalize this strategy, Ulyukayev said in conclusion.

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