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    Russia's 2009 budget deficit to be 8% of GDP - economics minister

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    MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's budget deficit will reach 8% of GDP in 2009, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said on Tuesday.

    Nabiullina said the figure took into account so-called quasi-budgetary expenditures in the form of subordinated loans to business, which would be repaid at a later date.

    "The real deficit will be less," she said.

    Russia's economy grew 8.1% in 2007 and the government expected GDP to grow 7.8% in 2008 but had to lower its forecast to 5.6% due to the global financial crisis.

    Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin earlier said Russia's GDP growth would be close to zero and budgetary revenues could decline 40% in 2009 amid the economic crisis.

    The federal budget for 2009 originally set expenditures at 9.024 trillion rubles ($250 billion at current exchange rates) and revenues at slightly over 10 trillion rubles ($277 billion), but the drop in oil prices has cut the expected income dramatically.

    The budget was based on an average oil price of $95 per barrel for the year, but is being recalculated based on a figure of $41 per barrel.

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