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    Russia's anti-crisis package to hit 12% of GDP in 2009 - Putin

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    The Russian government's spending on anti-crisis measures will reach 12% of GDP in 2009, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

    NOVOKUZNETSK, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government's spending on anti-crisis measures will reach 12% of GDP in 2009, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

    "Among the developed economies, the largest anti-crisis package investment is being made by Japan - about 2% of GDP. Our measures amount to 4.5% of GDP, and taking into account efforts by the Central Bank to improve bank liquidity, our anti-crisis package will hit 12% of GDP," Putin said at a meeting with coal miners in southwest Siberia.

    However, the premier said that state guarantees, which companies and banks from all sectors of the Russian economy were seeking, were not unlimited and would total 300 billion rubles ($8.5 billion) in 2009.

    Putin said that this year's federal budget deficit would reach about 8% of GDP, and that the government would channel about 3 trillion rubles ($85 billion) to cover this gap. He also said that Russia's reserves of 8 trillion rubles (about $227 billion) accumulated in previous years would enable the government to finance the budget deficit without resorting to external borrowings.

    The government will continue to subsidize credit interest rates. In particular, credit rates for agricultural producers would be subsidized by up to 80%.

    He also said that the government's anti-crisis policies would include measures to reduce the tax burden, and raise import duties on goods produced in Russia and ensure the ruble's stability.

    Government investment will total 1.2 trillion rubles ($34 billion) in 2009, and will be virtually unchanged from the previous year, Putin said, adding that 606 billion rubles ($17 billion) would be spent on construction, including facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

    The government's social commitments are top priority during the crisis period, the premier said. The 2009 budget will allocate 43 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) to finance anti-crisis measures in regions, and up to 4 billion rubles ($114 million) to pay unemployment benefit.

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