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    RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER SPEAKS ON PRIORITIES IN GOVERNMENT'S LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

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    MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - The draft law on creating additional jobs and combating unemployment will be among priority bills to be submitted by the government to the State Duma this year, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told the State Duma first plenary session on Friday.

    "Growing unemployment will be one of the consequences of the development of highly competitive branches of the economy. Unfortunately, competition generates labor productivity growth today, although through reductions in the number of jobs," the Prime Minister said.

    The government will address unemployment, in the first place, by developing small business, especially in regions, Kasyanov noted.

    Emphasis will be laid on creating jobs for young people also in the south of Russia, he said.

    The development of mortgage crediting will be another priority in the government's legislative activity in 2004, said the Prime Minister.

    "Mortgage is an important instrument to ensure high-quality and inexpensive housing and to stimulate the construction complex," Mikhail Kasyanov said.

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