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    VLADIMIR PUTIN: TAX SYSTEM MUST NOT BE AN UNBEARABLE WEIGHT ON BUSINESS

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    MOSCOW, March 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- President Vladimir Putin attended a joint session of the boards of the ministries of finance and economic development, which discussed the results of their work in 2003 and the tasks for 2004.

    The president said at the session that the authorities "must carry through the tax reforms. The taxation conditions should be the same for all enterprises in the given branch and the tax system as a whole must not be an unbearable weight on business." Mr. Putin believes that "upon the end of the tax reform, the basic elements of the tax system must not be reviewed for many years." He instructed the premier to submit a comprehensive package of suggestions on changes in the tax system.

    The president called for redistributing the tax sources between the authorities of different levels, as part of the reform of inter-budget relations. In his words, "each level of power should be encouraged to increase its taxation base."

    Vladimir Putin also spoke about the need to review taxes on the producers of mineral resources. "Taxation of the producers of mineral resources is a separate section," he said. I ask you to consider ways to improve this vital section without undermining the development possibilities of power engineering." In his words, the current system of payment for mineral resources does not ensure an economically substantiated volume of the mineral resources rent. Putin set the task of formulating relevant suggestions and discussing them in the government in April, before forwarding them to the State Duma.

    Vladimir Putin also spoke about the need to streamline the amount of state property. He believes that "the state should manage only such property which it needs to implement its public powers."

    The head of state set the task of taking a decision on reducing the joint social tax and streamlining VAT. He pointed out that "this should not weaken but strengthen the revenue base of extra-budgetary funds and thus ensure the social guarantees of the people." Vladimir Putin noted that "the specialists in this audience know very well that this task is feasible and must be fulfilled." Likewise, we should finish the income tax reform, said the president.

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