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    RUSSIAN BUDGET REFORM ON: KUDRIN TO PUTIN

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    MOSCOW, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - Federal President Vladimir Putin received Alexei Kudrin, Finance Minister, today to take stock of Russian budget reform progress.

    The budget reform is going on as part and parcel of the administrative. To make all budget expenditures as efficient as possible is its main goal, said the minister.

    He reported to Mr. Putin about an initial experiment, which had just finished. It tested new patterns for reports by ministries and other central offices to smooth out new financing arrangements. The experiment made it clearer what is to be done to switch the country to them, remarked Alexei Kudrin.

    The task demands specified competence delineation and finishing touches on the new administrative patterns. Every structural unit, from federal down to every government-financed company and office, must concentrate on practical fruit of its work. Russia used to proceed in its planning from actual achievements. Now it is high time to switch to planning that will proceed from desired objectives. It will be a shift from resource and expenditure management to goal-setting, the minister explained his point.

    Next Thursday's Cabinet session will analyse a report on the budget-forming concept. The Cabinet intends to approve, on its basis, a budget reform concept for this year into 2006. The Cabinet also intends to decree reform principles, and specify reform goals and new accounting patterns at all levels from federal ministries down to all government-financed companies and offices.

    There is another major task, the minister went on-to streamline the Budget Code. The Cabinet intends to reconsider it according to the new principles next year. The 2005 federal budget is to take stock of the latest achievements. It will come as a first go at new budgetary arrangements. Russia expects to fully shift to updated budget formation in 2006-07, said Alexei Kudrin.

    "To make management more efficient, and offer better public services is the primary goal of all endeavours on our administrative reform, and we are to bear that goal in mind," pointed out President Vladimir Putin.

    "Please never forget two basic objectives. First, whatever we are doing is to dynamically promote economic progress. Second, underlying all reforms must be close compliance with our social pledges to the nation. Reforms are not an end in itself. What matters most are better services to the public," he stressed.

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