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    Putin: Natural resource legislation should be mindful of environmental concerns

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    Moscow, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian legislation regulating the use of water, forest and subsoil resources should be mindful of environmental concerns, President Vladimir Putin said.

    Addressing a meeting of cabinet and parliament members here Monday, Putin said the government should establish a lasting and meaningful dialogue with the public so that all valid environmental concerns it might have could be taken into account when drafting natural resources bills.

    Economic Development and Trade Minister Herman Gref said he prioritized the adoption of a natural resources package, comprised of forest and water resources codes and a subsoil resources law. He said the government was planning to hold discussions on the package in the regions.

    "Obviously, there is a need for a whole number of provisions... to be made more specific, so that they will become fully comprehensible to the Federation member states," Gref said.

    "The forestry sector may serve as the driving force behind economic growth in a number of Federation member states," he continued. "We have agreed to act step by step. We are beginning by launching the Forest Code, then, through customs tariff policies, we'll encourage large investors into the sector."

    According to Gref, some of the laws adopted by parliament in the year's first half are of fundamental importance for Russia's economic growth. They are investment-oriented and aimed at giving a boost to the nation's industrial development, he said.

    As he spoke of bills passed by the State Duma, parliament's lower house, before its summer recess, Gref singled out as particularly significant the ones related to government purchases, special economic zones, and concession.

    "We are drafting by-laws so as to ensure the launch, before the year's end, of mechanisms that would create an opportunity to speed up economic growth," he said, referring to the law on special economic zones.

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