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    MOSCOW, January 2 (RIA Novosti) - Vice Premier, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin believes in 2004 the ruble will be a good means of saving.

    "Even more profitable than the USD or euro," Kudrin told Rossia TV channel's Vesti program.

    "Not all our citizens believe it," the minister admitted.

    Speaking on the reduction of taxes in 2004 (the five per cent sales tax was abolished, the VAT reduced from 20 to 18 per cent), Kudrin said reduction of taxes always creates favorable conditions for business.

    "Reduction of the VAT by two per cent means 100 billion rubles (over 3.3 billion dollars) will remain in the economy, the minister said.

    "It means the enterprises will replenish their circulating assets, increase wages, invest the fixed capital in equipment, facilities of their enterprises. This means we will support economic growth," the vice premier said.

    In his opinion, this support is "more qualitative, more sound" than the support at the expense of the remaining high oil prices.

    By his forecasts, in the years to come, stable growth of Russia's economy will not decrease. This refers to the growth of wages too. "It'll be more profitable to work in Russia," the vice premier believes.

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