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    RUSSIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR TOUGHER CONTROL OVER BANKING SECTOR

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 11 (RIA Novosti) - Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov of Russia has invited his colleagues to analyze the government's role in regulating this country's banking sector. "The government and the Central Bank should see if we regulate crediting organizations a bit too much," the Premier said at a Cabinet session Wednesday.

    At the same time, Mr. Kasyanov deems it necessary to toughen control and supervision in the banking sector. Two years ago, the government wondered why Russia's finance institutions numbered in the thousands whereas developed nations had only dozens each, he recalled. The number of Russian banks has been reduced since then, but this country still has more of them than it needs. This is partly due to the fact that the takeover and merger procedures remain as complicated as before. As Kasyanov believes, it is necessary to as soon as possible solve the problem of consolidating Russian banking institutions, making them more reliable and responsible, and increasing their assets.

    The Premier called the Cabinet ministers' attention to what he described as excessive expenses of Russia's banking sector. He corroborated his point by saying that one in every three loans attracted by Russian businesses last year came in from abroad.

    On the positive side, Mr. Kasyanov highlighted the shrinkage of the government's share in the banking sector, with almost all of its stakes now put up for sale to private companies.

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