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    RUSSIA'S GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER STRATEGY OF DEVELOPMENT OF RUSSIAN BANKING SECTOR

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    MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Federation's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said addressing the 15th congress of the Association of Russian Banks on Wednesday that a strategy of development of Russia's banking sector would be considered at a meeting of the Russian government in the first half of this year.

    "Not less but more ambitious tasks than in the development of other economic sectors must be set in the development of the banking sector," he stated.

    According to Mr. Zhukov, the government views the development of the banking system "as a major structural instrument for accelerating Russia's economic growth, and it is our most important strategic task today." According to the Vice-Premier's estimate, the year of 2003 "was not at all bad, or even very good" for the banking system.

    "The banking sector grew more rapidly than any other sector of the economy," Mr. Zhukov noted.

    According to him, last year the banking system's assets increased by 35% and now stand at 5,600,000 million roubles. The banks' own financial resources augmented by more than 40%.

    The balance in the deposit accounts of individuals grew by 47%, while the number of deposits for a term of more than one year increased by 82%. This is evidence of the population's increased trust in banks, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed.

    Russia's banking system has been growing fast and developing, and conditions for passing onto a qualitatively new stage of its development have already been created, Alexander Zhukov emphasized.

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