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    MOSCOW, April 5, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - At the president's conference with the Cabinet, Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref assured the Russian president that the rate of inflation would not exceed the projected 10% in 2004.

    The president asked Mr. Gref, "Recently, inflation has been exceeding the projected parameters, hasn't it? If it is so, then why?"

    "The March 2004 figures in essence lie within the set framework of 0.8%," said Mr. Gref.

    In his words, accumulated inflation amounted to 3.5% from the beginning of the year, as compared to 5.2% last year.

    Mr. Gref continued that in the first quarter inflation was somewhat higher but remained within the seasonal fluctuations, because natural monopolies generally raise their tariffs from January 1.

    "We are about 2% behind last year's schedule," Mr. Gref specified.

    "Today, we have all the chances of fitting into the 10% forecast," the minister asserted.

    "Can we say that the situation is developing normally?" the president asked.

    "So far, the situation is absolutely within our forecasts," said Mr. Gref.

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