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    PUTIN CONCERNED OVER GROWING FOOD PRICES

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    KIROVSK (Leningrad region), January 27th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Natalia Gorbunova) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerned over the growing prices for foodstuffs in Russia. The Russian head of state said this on Tuesday after meeting pensioners of the Leningrad region who had raised this issue.

    "I have warned the government but they failed to react promptly," said the president. "This is a mistake," continued Putin.

    "Nor did the government react on time to grain prices," underlined the head of state.

    He added that the cabinet had thus allowed agricultural producers to make more money.

    "However, knowing the low incomes of our citizens, the state should be more flexible in its position. We should take the population's incomes into consideration and make them proportionate to increasing prices," emphasised the president.

    When asked about state support for agriculture, Vladimir Putin noted that the support was offered, including in taxation as well.

    He recalled that a law had been adopted to reduce tax burden and facilitate agricultural tax calculations. Besides, loans are now offered for harvest and leasing, and last year foreign agricultural imports were limited in Russia, said the president.

    "We will stick to this policy in the future," Putin promised.

    Plus, the head of state stressed the need for a balanced policy in all economic sectors.

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