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Issues discussed at the meetings held by the Government of the Russian Federation on May 12 and 26 of Among the all issues discussed at the meetings held by the Government of the Russian Federation in May, the most interesting ones were the following. At the meeting held on May 12, the RF Government discussed the draft federal law On amendments to articles 22 and 26 of the second section of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation as elaborated by the RF Finance Ministry. At the same meeting, Yu. Ya. Chaika, the RF Minister of Justice, presented the draft federal law On amendments to article 181 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation in accordance with which there should be reduced the period of limitations as concerns void contracts. At its meeting held on May 26, the Government discussed the report presented by A. L. Kudrin, the RF Finance Minister, The key results of the execution of the federal budget for year 2004. * * * At the meeting of the RF Government held on May 12, the RF Finance Ministry presented its elaborated draft federal law On amendments to articles 22 and 26 of the second section of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation. Due to a growth in the average level of prices of consumer goods and taking into account the estimated rates of inflation in 2006, the draft law envisages the indexation of specific rates of excises on excisable goods and the rate of the mineral extraction tax (MET) imposed on extraction of natural gas. Thus, for the purposes to prevent a decline in the relative level of tax budget revenues, the draft law envisages to index the rates of excises on excisable goods (with the exception of oil products and cigarettes) and the rate of the mineral extraction tax on the extraction of natural gas by 9 per cent. The law envisages a more significant indexation of the specific components of the tax rates with respect to cigarettes (15 per cent) and a more precise selective approach to the limitations concerning the ad valorem component of the rate.

In order to diminish the number of cases of tax evasion with respect to alcohol products, the draft law envisages the abolishment of the tax regime of excise warehouse with respect to alcohol products and the exclusion of excise warehouses of wholesale organizations from the composition of taxpayers.

For the purposes of prevention of budget losses of RF subjects, in the territory of which there are located excise warehouses of wholesale organizations, the draft federal law On amendments to articles 22 and 26 of the second section of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation envisages a procedure ensuring revenues from excises on alcohol products due to the budgets of RF subjects in accordance with the distribution of such revenues formed during the period, when the excise warehouse tax regime has been in force.

At the same meeting held by the RF Government on May 12, Yu. Ya. Chaika, the RF Minister of Justice, presented the draft federal law On amendments to article 181 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation elaborated by the RF Ministry of Justice in accordance with the assignment given by the RF President. According to the report, the law enforcement practice with respect to article 181 of the Civil Code, which determined the period of limitations as concerns void contracts, indicates that this article has been applied for illegitimate change of property owners, i.e. contradicts the aims of declaration of transactions null and void, that is the protection of the lawful interests of individuals and legal entities. This circumstance negatively affects the investment climate and economic development of the country. In accordance with the draft federal law, the periods of limitations with respect to void contracts should be reduced from 10 years to 3 years.

At its meeting held on May 26, the Government discussed the report presented by A. L. Kudrin, the RF Finance Minister, The key results of the execution of the federal budget for year 2004. According to the report, in 2004 the revenues of the federal budget were registered at Rub. 3428.billion (plus 20.4 per cent in comparison with the preliminary estimates of the GDP amount for year 2004 (hereinafter referred as the GDP amount)). The expenditures made Rub. 2708.6 billion in terms of fulfilled financing of the expenditures of the federal budget (or 16.1 per cent of the GDP amount) (97 per cent of the annual budget targets in terms of expenditures and 97.8 per cent in terms of the adjusted aggregate budget revenues and expenditures schedule), at the same time, the amount of cash expenditures made Rub. 2698.9 billion (97.5 per cent and 97.5 per cent respectively). The federal budget surplus in terms of financing made Rub. 720.3 billion (4.3 per cent of the GDP amount) and Rub. 730.0 billion in terms of cash execution (or 4.4 per cent of the GDP amount). The primary surplus of the federal budget in terms of fulfilled financing made Rub. 925.0 billion, or 5.5 per cent of the GDP amount, while in terms of cash execution it made Rub. 934.7 billion (or 5.6 per cent of the GDP amount). Further, the analysis of the execution of the federal budget in terms of expenditures is carried out on the basis of the data on fulfilled financing.

As concerns the consolidated budget, in 2004 the respective revenues made Rub. 5429.9 billion (the revenues of the federal budget were registered at Rub. 3428.9 billion, while the budgets of RF subjects received Rub. 2403.2 billion). In the total amount of revenues of the RF consolidated budget, the tax revenues (without the single social tax) accounted for the larger part of revenues and made 82.per cent of the total revenues. In 2004, the expenditures of the consolidated budget made Rub. 4669.billion (this amount was almost 1.2 times above the figures of respective expenditures registered in 2003). On the whole, in 2004 the RF consolidated budget was executed with the surplus amounting to Rub. 760.2 billion. In a number of RF subjects there was observed budget deficits, while certain RF subjects budgets were executed with surpluses. On the whole, the surplus of consolidated budgets of RF subjects made Rub. 30.2 billion.

As on January 1, 2005, the amount of the RF public debt made Rub. 3951.9 billion in absolute terms thus decreasing by Rub. 237.7 billion in comparison with the figures registered as on January 1, 2004. The amount of the external debt declined by Rub. 334.2 billion (or 2 per cent of GDP amount), while the amount of the internal debt increased by Rub. 96.5 billion (or 0.6 per cent of the GDP amount). The ratio between the amount of the RF public debt and the GDP amount declined from 31.per cent registered in the beginning of 2004 (the amount of the RF public debt observed on January 1, 2004, to the respective figures registered in 2003) to 23.5 per cent as on January 1, 2005, i.e. by 8. 2 p.

Over the reporting period, there was observed a significant change in the structure of the RF internal debt across the types of debt obligations. As a result of the measures taken by the RF Finance Ministry on the market of state securities in 2004, the share of medium and long term obligations increased, while the share of short term securities declined, what was an indication of a qualitative improvement of the structure of the RF internal public debt denominated in the state securities issued by the Russian Federation.

In 2004, the tax revenues made Rub. 2712.1 billion (or 79.1 per cent of the total amount of revenues received by the RF federal budget). The revenues generated by the VAT (39.5 of cent of the total amount of tax revenues), customs duties (31.7 per cent), payments associated with the use of natural resources (16.0 per cent), the tax on the profits of organizations (7.6 per cent), and excises (4.3 per cent) accounted for the larger part of the total revenues of the federal budget. The surplus of actual tax revenues in comparison with the targets of 2004 made Rub. 99.1 billion. At the same time, the changes in the macroeconomic indicators observed in 2004 resulted in an increase in tax revenues by Rub. 56.billion, while the factors not related to the changes in macroeconomic indicators accounted for the growth in tax revenues amounting to Rub. 42.5 billion.

In 2004, the revenues of the RF federal budget generated by taxes made:

- The profit tax on organizations Rub. 205.7 billion (109.9 per cent of the years budget targets);

- The gambling tax Rub. 264.6 million (101.8 per cent of the years budget targets);

- The security transfer tax Rub. 121.3 million (14.7 per cent of the years budget targets);

- The value added tax Rub. 1069.7 billion (104.5 per cent of the years budget targets);

- Payments associated with the use of natural resources Rub. 434.3 billion (103.6 per cent of the years budget targets);

- The taxes on foreign trade and external economic operations Rub. 859.7 billion (102.2 per cent of the years budget targets);

- Other taxes, fees, and charges Rub. 23.6 billion (101.4 per cent of the years budget targets).

The revenues associated with excises on excisable goods produced in the RF territory made Rub.

109.7 billion (or 99.3 per cent of the budget targets), while the revenues generated by excises on excisable goods imported to the territory of the Russian Federation made Rub. 7.5 billion (136.9 per cent of the budget targets set for year 2004).

Over the reporting period, in general the execution of the RF federal budget in terms of expenditures was carried out with an insignificant under-fulfillment of the adjusted aggregate budget revenues and expenditures schedule (97.8 per cent). Non-interest expenditures (without the single social tax) made 12.3 per cent of GDP, what was by 1.2 p. p. below the level registered in 2003; these expenditures were financed in the amount of Rub. 2503.8 (or 99.3 per cent of the years budget targets). The interest expenditures of the RF federal budget made Rub. 204.7 billion, or 83.0 per cent of the years budget targets.

As it has been mentioned earlier, in 2004 the RF federal budget was executed with the surplus amounting to Rub. 720.3 billion. In 2003, the balance of sources of internal financing made Rub. (-) 503.0 billion as broken down by:

- The balance of government security transfers (including other government securities) made Rub. 96.1 billion;

- Other sources of internal financing made Rub. (-) 27.2 billion;

- Revenues generated by the sales of property owned by the state and municipalities made Rub.

69.2 billion, or 103.0 per cent of the years budget targets and adjusted budget revenues and expenditures schedule for year 2004;

- The balance of operations involving state reserves of precious metals and precious stones made Rub. 26.0 billion;

- The changes in the balances of accounts made Rub. (-) 661.3 billion in 2004;

- The difference in exchange rates in 2004 made Rub. (-) 5.8 billion.

The sources of external financing of the deficit of the RF federal budget made in total Rub. (-) 217.billion (the balance), including borrowings amounting to Rub. 44.7 billion and repayment of the foreign debt amounting to Rub. 262.0 billion.

The amount of resources of the RF Stabilization Fund accumulated as on January 1, 2005, made Rub. 522.3 billion, what was by Rub. 22.3 billion (or 4.5 per cent) above the figures set by the federal law On the federal budget for year 2004. The total amount of increase in the RF Stabilization Fund registered in 2004 made Rub. 416.3 billion.

E. A. Bolshakova A review of regulatory documents concerning taxation which were made public in May of 1. Letter of the RF Central Bank of April 29, 2005, No. 70-T with respect to document No. 01SSh/54 issued by the RF Finance Ministry explains the issues concerning the procedures of formation by crediting organizations of reserves aimed at the compensation of possible losses borne in relation with loans as concerns the loan indebtedness and indebtedness granted the same status after the entrance in force of the Regulations of the RF Central Bank No. 254-P of March 26, 2004. The explanations concern the procedure of restoration of reserves for standard loans formed prior to the enactment of the new procedure applicable to reserves in the case these loans were transferred from the 1st risk group to the 2nd through 5th quality groups. (In accordance with the procedure, which had been in force earlier as established by Order of the RF Central Bank No. 62a of July 30, 1997, loans had been classified in 4 risk categories, while under the new procedure the respective classification included 5 quality categories). In the course of switching to the new procedure, as concerns the proceeds not taken into account for the purposes of taxation there should be restored the amounts of reserves earlier created with respect to the 1st risk group (not applied for the reduction of the profit tax base) and simultaneously there should be formed a reserve related to the respective quality group (2 5). In the case of lower quality groups, the amounts of formed reserves should be defined as expenditures deducted from the tax base. A similar approach should be used in the course of re-classification of loans pertaining to the first risk group as loans of the first quality group, but without diminishing of the tax base by the amount of the respective reserves. In accordance with the new procedure, the amount of reserve should be calculated as the amount of the granted loan minus the costs of its collateral multiplied by the respective adjustment coefficient of the quality of the collateral (1 or 0.5).

The letter also explains that in the composition of expenditures deducted from the profit tax base should be included the allocations to the reserves formed with respect to assets (including those being in the balance sheets as on August 1, 2004) in the form of monetary claims and the claims resulting from transactions with financial instruments defined as loans:

- Granted credits (loans), placed deposits, including inter-bank credits (deposits, loans), other placed funds, including the claims with respect to receipt (repayment) of debt securities, stocks, and bills granted under loan agreements;

- Discounted bills;

- Amounts paid by the crediting organization to the beneficiary with respect to bank guarantees, although not recovered from the principal;

- Monetary claims of crediting organizations pertaining to transactions of financing against the transfer of monetary claims (factoring);

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