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    PUTIN ADMINISTRATION DIFFERS OVER THE ROUBLE EXCHANGE RATE

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    MOSCOW, January 21st, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The Putin administration has not come to an agreement on the need to consolidate the rouble exchange rate. "Big disputes are going on in the Kremlin on this score," the head of the presidential economic department, Anton Danilov-Danilyan, told reporters on Wednesday.

    He believes that in case the rouble-dollar rate grows by at least 6% this year, "we shall be able to say that the entire reserve, which existed since the rouble devaluation in 1998, has been exhausted." In this case "the lines of the currency exchange rate and inflation will intersect and coincide," said Danilov-Danilyan.

    According to him, after the default in Russia in August 1998, the difference between the exchange rate and inflation amounted to 500 points, while at the present time it is already less than 50 points.

    The Russian economy "is growing not through devaluation, but because of other factors," underscored the Kremlin official. He named among these factors "a very favourable market situation for Russian exports. Apart from that, in the past few years, the Russian enterprises of the food industry and trade "have learned how to work" and succeeded in bringing their expenses "into the acceptable market channel." The management of the enterprises have also started restructuring production processes. The head of the Russian presidential economic department believes that the marketing skill of the managers and the owners of Russian enterprises has improved.

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