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    UNITED RUSSIA SUBMITS AFFORDABLE HOUSING DRAFT LAWS TO STATE DUMA

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    MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti) - The United Russia faction submitted a package of draft laws to the State Duma (lower house of parliament) aimed at forming an affordable housing market, Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the State Duma and the leader of United Russia, told journalists on Thursday.

    He explained that 27 draft laws had already been submitted and that the 28th is being prepared for submission. The draft laws will be distributed among five specialized committees.

    "Much work on them [the draft laws] has to be done," Mr. Gryzlov said. "And State Duma Deputy Speaker Georgy Boos has already given an instruction to form a working group that will include deputies from these special committees to prepare the draft laws for consideration."

    According to him, the draft laws have been sent to all deputy associations and to the government.

    "According to procedure, one month is given for familiarization with the documents, and we hope that on June 10-11 we will be in a position to start considering them in their first reading," Mr. Gryzlov said.

    The speaker noted that approval of this package of draft laws would make it possible to "substantially influence the housing market, making it more accessible to Russians." He explained that the laws are aimed at making housing construction more effective, which will increase the amount of construction thus enabling the cost of a square meter of living area to be noticeably reduced.

    Mr. Gryzlov recalled that the United Russia party had worked on the draft laws for more than 18 months.

    "It is apparent to me that at the legislative level, we have managed to prepare a decision for cutting the prices of housing in Russia," Mr. Gryzlov said.

    He also noted that the draft laws provide for further development of mortgage crediting.

    Mr. Boos, the head of the working group for developing the package of draft laws on housing construction, noted earlier that the package, which the government and the president's administration helped prepare, made changes in and additions to legislation on mortgage crediting and the registration of real estate rights and transactions, as well as to civil, civil-procedural, and tax-budget legislation.

    Mr. Boos said that currently less than 40 million square meters of housing are built in Russia a year and that the demand for housing was 150 million square meters. According to him, this demand will persist for another 20 years.

    "If the package is approved in a decade, 140 million square meters will be built in Russia a year," Mr. Boos stressed. Otherwise, housing construction will increase but in ten years it will only reach 55-60 million square meters a year, he noted.

    Mr. Boos said that the state's direct financial participation would be limited to giving people in low-income brackets housing subsidies.

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