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    WB EXPERTS: RUSSIA GDP GROWTH UNDERESTIMATED IN RAW MATERIAL SECTOR

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    MOSCOW, February 18th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - World Bank (WB) experts believe that Russia's GDP growth in raw material sectors is actually higher than the official estimates. These conclusions are contained in the WB's report on Russian economy forwarded to RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

    Our re-calculations prompt a conclusion that industrial GDP, particularly in the oil and gas sector, exceeds the official data, runs the report. Russia's economy happens to be even more dependable on the world prices for energy supplies than the twisted official data on the GDP suggested.

    According to the report, it is not quite clear why the share of the oil and gas sector in the GDP amounts to less than 9%, though revenues from oil and gas exports are said to make 20%.

    According to WB experts, this can be explained by the transfer pricing: many companies avoid paying taxes by selling their products to affiliated trade companies for prices which are lower than market ones.

    These companies then re-sell their products to the final consumer at the market prices and put the difference in the pocket, the report explains.

    WB experts pointed out that transfer pricing helped reduce production companies' tax payments by artificially decreasing their profits, thereby twisting the national accounts system and underestimating the industrial production's contribution to the GDP, particularly in the oil sector.

    According to the first assessment of the Russian state statistics committee published on February 3rd, 2004, the nominal value of the Russian GDP in 2003 grew by 7.3%.

    According to the State Statistics Committee, GDP increased up to 13 trillion 304 billion 700 thousand roubles from 10,834 billion 200 million roubles in 2002 ($1 equals about 29 roubles).

    In 2003, the volume of commodity production grew by 7% to reach 4 trillion 784 million 800 thousand roubles, including in industry - by 7% up to 3 trillion 214 billion roubles, in construction - by 12.1% up to 850 billion 700 thousand roubles.

    The production of services increased by 7.4% up to 7,111 billion 500 million roubles, including market services - by 8.3% up to 5,825 billion 600 thousand roubles and non-market services - by 2% up to 1 billion 285 million 900 thousand roubles.

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