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    RUSSIA GOVERNMENT UPS 2004 GDP GROWTH FORECAST TO 5.7 PERCENT

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    NEW YORK, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government has revised the official forecast of the growth of the 2004 gross domestic product as increasing from 5.2 to 5.7 percent, Russian First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Ulyukaev told the 8th annual conference Investments in Russia and the CIS on Thursday.

    "In my personal estimate, the growth of the GDP will be even more, about 6 percent", he added.

    "Russia has made a good start this year," Ulyukaev said. "In the first quarter inflation will not exceed 3.2 percent compared with 5.2 percent last year." "We hope that this year, on the whole, the level of inflation will not be more than 10 percent," the first deputy finance minister said.

    "In February the growth of industrial production reached 8.7 percent. Russia's foreign debt is not exceeding 27 percent of the GDP, while in 2000 it toped 80 percent of the GDP," he said.

    In Ulyukaev's forecast, the rouble exchange rate will be 28.5-29 roubles per dollar in late 2004. "Thus, in real terms relative to the currencies' package the rouble will gain 7 percent in value," Ulyukaev said.

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