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    Russia's Reserve Fund down 13.7% in April to $106.8 bln

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    Russia's Reserve Fund shrank by 13.7% to 3.551 trillion rubles ($106.81 billion), and the National Prosperity Fund declined by 1.6% to 2.869 trillion rubles ($86.3 billion) in April, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Reserve Fund shrank by 13.7% to 3.551 trillion rubles ($106.81 billion), and the National Prosperity Fund declined by 1.6% to 2.869 trillion rubles ($86.3 billion) in April, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.

    The Reserve Fund was set up to cushion the federal budget against a fall in oil prices, and the National Prosperity Fund was designed to help the government carry out pension reforms.

    So far this year, Russia has spent 1 trillion rubles ($30.3 billion) from the Reserve Fund to cover the federal budget deficit, the Finance Ministry said.

    It said a total of 1.6 trillion rubles would be spent from the Reserve Fund to cover the deficit in the first half of 2009 alone.

    Russia posted a budget deficit of 50 billion rubles ($1.5 billion), or 0.1% of gross domestic product, in the first quarter of this year.

    Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin earlier said budget spending had increased in the first quarter as the government allocated additional funds for anti-crisis measures, in particular measures to support the pension system, regional governments and key sectors of the economy, such as the defense complex and the auto industry.

    He said the largest budget deficits were expected in the second, third, and possibly fourth quarters, as the government spends more on anti-crisis measures. The minister said the projected 7.4% federal budget deficit in 2009 would be covered by the Reserve Fund.

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