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    RUSSIA-BELARUS DRAFT BUDGET TO BE CONSIDERED MARCH 25

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    MOSCOW, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The draft budget of the Russia-Belarus union state will be considered in the second reading on March 25 in Moscow, State Duma Speaker and Chairman of the Russia-Belarus Parliamentary Assembly Boris Gryzlov said on Thursday.

    According to him, the first reading of the document took place in Minsk, Belarussian capital. The budget of the union state amounts to 2 billion 650 million roubles (about $90 million).

    Mr. Gryzlov said that the 2004 budget provided not only for the work of joint structural subunits but also serious work on more than 30 projects, in particular security provision, border control and new industrial technologies.

    "Russia and Belarus are consistently advancing towards the formation of the union state. We have a relevant plan, which has been 60% fulfilled - 61 out of the entire 86 points have been implemented, including 23 economic points," said Mr. Gryzlov.

    According to him, economic issues are addressed most seriously because they cause most disagreements. But this is natural, and there can be no palpable progress otherwise, he added.

    According to Mr. Gryzlov, parliamentarians had earlier discussed a series of compromising proposals. They will be forwarded to Russian and Belarussian executives, he said.

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