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    RUSSIA NEEDS LARGE COMPANIES - WORLD BANK EXPERT

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    MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia should have an economic interest in creating large companies, World Bank expert Christoph Ruel said at a round table organized by Russia's Higher School of Economics. Any elements of acquisition, merger and absorption and methods of creating large companies are vital in this connection, as this will give Russia major economic advantages, said the expert.

    In his opinion, oligarchs have a substantial economic role in this process (mergers and absorptions). However, Mr Ruel did not specify if this role is positive or negative. Moreover, he said he would not like his opinion to be presented in the press as advocacy of the oligarchs. I would not like the media to interpret my words in this manner, he said. I only want to say that Russia needs large companies and, consequently, regulation methods.

    According to the World Bank studies of the employment of labor resources in Russia, the number of people employed in the public sector, especially in the industry, has grown in the past few years. Experts also note a rise in labor productivity in the industry. At the same time, Mr Ruel said the Russian industry should be restructured, as considerably fewer people work at large enterprises in Russia than in the USA.

    Christoph Ruel also said that, according to the World Bank, the shares of oil and gas in the structure of Russia's GDP are underrated. In the past, after the publication of the State Statistics Committee's report on the 2003 economic indices, the bank's experts also said that the report underrated the share of the output of the oil and gas sector.

    The Committee is not to blame. The reason for this is the systems problems of corporate management, said Mr Ruel. It happened because of the tax minimization schemes used by the companies and the creation of agent and trade structures to which the oil companies sold oil at understated prices. The statistical data should be reviewed, thinks the expert.

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