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    MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti) - The imperfection of the effective budget legislation is the main obstacle on the way of creating a truly effective and transparent budget system in Russia. This is what Russia's chief auditor Sergei Stepashin told the State Duma today during the discussion of the draft law "On the 2002 Federal Budget Administration." As the press release of the Audit Chamber says, the chairman of the Audit Chamber noted that legal collisions enabling financial discipline offenders to escape punishment had not yet been removed and in some cases the degree of responsibility for particular financial offences was not clearly defined.

    "Precisely the imperfect legislation, in the opinion of Sergei Stepashin, gave rise to 80 instances of the misuse of funds in the amount of 614.7 million rubles (28.5 rubles to the US dollar) revealed by the audit of the federal budget administration in 2002," the press release says. The largest amounts of misused funds were revealed in the Transport Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry of Russia, the Karachayevo-Cherkessk Republic and the Republic of Ingushetia (both are North Caucasian autonomies).

    "Large discrepancies in the system of inter-budget relations continue to be a serious problem," the press release says. The number of heavily subsidized regions increased from 15 in 2001 to 31 in 2002 and the number of regions with budget deficits over the same period rose from 42 to 63. The deficit of regional budgets in 2002 totaled 53.6 billion rubles whereas a year prior to that this figure had been 7.8 billion rubles.

    The Audit Chamber pointed on many occasions to the problem of tax havens inside the country (such as Ingushetia or Kalmykia), which only created additional imbalances for the system of inter-budgetary relations. The Audit Chamber, Sergei Stepashin said in conclusion, was ready to participate actively in efforts to bring order to Russia's budget system to make it correspond to the country's ambitious goals at the current stage and share with State Duma deputies its ideas and proposals on improving budget legislation and procedures.

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