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    VICE-PREMIER INFORMS PRESIDENT OF DRAFT LAWS BEING PREPARED BY GOVERNMENT

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    MOSCOW, March 16, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Government is preparing a number of draft laws that will be submitted to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament).

    Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov informed the president on Tuesday that these draft laws are aimed at the further liberalization of tax legislation, providing medical insurance to the unemployed and administrative reform.

    Draft laws on the use of the mineral wealth will be also submitted soon.

    Mr. Zhukov said that the Government is going to prepare the final version of the Water Code until the end of March. According to him, the code grants the federal government ownership of all water resources, except small insignificant water reservoirs. Nature protection is highlighted in the code.

    In addition, the deputy prime minister told Mr. Putin that at its session on Thursday, the Government will consider the Forest Code, which will regulate legislation in the sphere of forest protection and use.

    Mr. Zhukov called the situation in Russia, which has the largest forest resources in the world but receives a minimal revenue from them, not correct.

    He reported that over the course of a month, the government would submit more than 30 draft laws prepared jointly with the presidential staff and aimed at the development of the affordable housing market to the State Duma.

    Mr. Putin replied to him by saying that the proposals being prepared should reflect every way to build affordable housing that is known in the world and is suitable for Russia.

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