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At the meeting of the Government of the Russian Federation held on December 22, 2004, there was discussed the report of G. O. Gref, the RF Minster of Economic Development and Trade, On the preliminary results of the social and economic development of the RF in 2004, the implementation of the action plan of the RF Government aimed at the realization of the Address of the President of the Russian Federation to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and the drafts of the medium term program of social and economic development of the Russian Federation for a medium term outlook (2005 through 2008) and the action plan of the RF Government for year 2005 aimed at its implementation. In his report, the Minister noted the key trends of social and economic development of Russia in 2004.

In 2004, the social and economic situation remained rather stable. According to the estimates presented by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, in January through November GDP increased by 6.9 per cent as compared with the figures registered in the respective period of the preceding year, while over the year the growth in GDP would make 6.8 per cent to 6.9 per cent. More than a half of increment in GDP was determined by the favorable external economic situation, while domestic demand accounted for the rest of the growth.

Over 11 months of the year, the amount of industrial output increased by 6.2 per cent as compared with the figures observed in the respective period of 2003, and according to the estimates, the total growth should also be at 6.2 per cent. An acceleration of the rates of economic growth was observed in the industries primarily oriented towards export of their products (metallurgy, chemistry, and petrochemistry), as well as those related to the investment complex (production of technological equipment). In January through November of 2004, the output of agricultural produce at large grew by 0.per cent in comparison with the indicators registered in the respective period of the last year, while over 2004 it should increase, according to estimates, by 1 per cent.

It is expected that in 2004 inflation rates will exceed the initially forecasted level and will make about 11.5 per cent in stead of 10 per cent.

Investment expectations improve: there is observed a significant growth in the borrowing Russian companies make on financial markets, including foreign markets, what has already resulted in a net inflow of capital in the private sector in September and October.

According to the estimates presented by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, in the price competitive capacity of Russian products diminished by 20 per cent on the average due to the outpacing rates of growth in domestic prices in comparison with import prices.

The competition on the part of imports increases. In January through November of 2004, the amount of imports grew by 24.6 per cent as compared with the figures registered in the respective period of the preceding year. This year, the major factor behind the growth in imports was the increase in the volume of import. This year, in the favorable external economic situation the amount of exports is characterized by high dynamics. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, in January through November of 2004 the export of goods increased by 32.1 per cent in comparison with the figures registered in the respective period of the last year. The key factor behind the growth in exports was the factor of price.

In 2004, the favorable external economic situation with respect to staple Russian exports persisted.

In January through November of 2004, the average Urals oil price made US $ 34.3 per barrel and increased by 26.7 per cent in comparison with the figures registered in the respective period of the preceding year; the average contract price of Russian natural gas with respect to the shipments to countries outside the former Soviet Union grew by 0.8 per cent in January through November. The raw material nature of the structure of Russian exports persisted.

According to the estimates presented by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, in January through November of this year the balance of trade reached a new record high of US $ 77.billion as compared with US $ 54.9 billion registered in January through November of 2003. The supply of such amounts of forex denominated export proceeds in the economy in combination with foreign exchange flowing in the country as a result of corporate borrowings accounted for an accelerated rates of increase of the gold and forex reserves of the Central Bank of Russia.

In 2004, household demand for goods and services was one of the most important components of domestic demand characterized by intensive dynamics.

In January through November of 2004, investment in fixed assets increased by 11.1 per cent in comparison with the figures registered in the respective period of the preceding year.

It is expected that in the 4th quarter of 2004 the average monthly rate of growth in GDP will persist almost at the level observed in the 3rd quarter (0.4 per cent). These dynamics will permit to reach the yearly rate of increase in GDP at 6.8 per cent to 6.9 per cent.

In his report, the Minister also presented the draft medium term program of social and economic development of the Russian Federation in 2005 through 2008.

The Minister noted that the medium term program of social and economic development of the RF set forth the key guidelines of the RF Government activities in 2005 through 2008, what should ensure the attainment of the national strategic aims: an increase in the wellbeing of citizens and reduction of poverty on the basis of a dynamic and sustainable economic growth. The key indicator of the successful social and economic development of the country is the two time increase in GDP in 10 years. The key condition for the consolidation of the Russias political and economic positions in the framework of the world community is to ensure the sustainable enhancement of the Russias competitive capacity, what is impossible without competition. Creation of equal conditions of competition for all enterprises and setting of clear and transparent rules of the game is the major aim of the RF Government in the sphere of the economy.

The major challenges of the current stage of economic growth in Russia 1. Low efficiency of state administration.

2. Lack of conditions and incentives for the development of human capital.

3. Low level of competition and high share of non-market sector.

4. Uneven implementation of reforms at the subfederal level.

5. Low level of integration of the Russian economy in the system of international economic relations.

6. Insufficient diversification, which makes the economy highly dependent on the world situation as concerns the prices of staple export goods.

7. Infrastructural restraints on growth.

Major conditions of implementation of the social and economic policy at the current stage:

1. It is necessary to achieve an economic growth ensuring progressive structural shifts in the Russian economy. The medium term program envisages the elaboration of tools of economic growth answering the following four criteria:

1) Economy should grow at high rates and ensure the twofold increase in GDP over 10 years;

2) The growth should be accompanied by progressive structural shifts (i.e. ensure diversification) and enhance the competitive power of the country;

3) The growth should be sustainable;

4) The growth should ensure the rise in economic development catching up with the most developed countries (i.e., the rate of growth should be above the average world indicators or above the rates of growth registered in the most developed countries).

2. Current economic problems faced by Russia can not be solved with the help of pure economic tools and institutions.

3. The absolute priority is the reform in the sectors related to the development of human potential, primarily education and health care.

4. Implementation of any economic policy measure should not undermine the achieved level of macroeconomic stability. At present, the key factors ensuring macroeconomic stability are the adherence of the RF Government to the balanced budget policy, maintenance of the regime of floating exchange rate, significant gold and foreign exchange reserves, consistent reduction of inflation, and maintenance of the Stabilization Fund.

5. The state of national social and economic institutions is of the key importance as concerns the solution of the problems faced by the country..

Key priorities of the social and economic development of the RF in the medium term outlook:

1. As concerns the creation of conditions for the enhancement of human competitive power, it is necessary to focus efforts on the reform of education.

2. It is necessary to improve the efficiency of functioning of the health care system.

3. The RF Government should focus its efforts on the struggle against poverty.

4. The efficiency of the state should be improved via the implementation of the administrative and public service reforms to the level answering the requirements of the society.

5. It is necessary to develop the innovation sphere.

6. It is necessary to develop Russias regions and support regional strategies of social and economic development. It is necessary to switch from inefficient equalization of regional development levels to the creation of conditions, which could create incentives for RF subjects and municipal entities to mobilize the available to them resources of economic growth.

7. It is necessary to remove the restraints of infrastructural and technological nature.

8. It is necessary to enhance competition and reduce the non-market sector. It is necessary to create and improve market institutions ensuring flexibility and stability of economy via growth of financial markets, the flow of capitals, development of manufacturing sectors, small businesses, incentives for innovations, and support of competitive conditions on markets.

E. A. Bolshakova A review of regulatory documents concerning taxation, which were made public in November through December of 1. Informational letter of the RF Tax Service No. 21-2-05/160 of November 23, 2004, set forth the rate of the mineral extraction tax (as adjusted for the Kts coefficient) at Rub.

1878.5617 per metric ton.

2. Federal law No. 141 FZ supplemented the RF Tax Code with Section X Local Taxes, which included article 31 Land Tax. Organizations and individuals owning, using in perpetuity, or inheriting land plots on the terms of life estate are defined as payers of this tax. At the same time, the law exempts from this tax the organizations and individuals using their plots of land on the terms of free limited use or on the basis of lease agreements.

The objects of taxation should be land plots situated in the territory of the municipal entity (in Moscow and St. Petersburg with the city limits), in the territory of which the tax is imposed.

The tax base is defined as the cadastre value of land plots defined as taxation objects. The tax rates should be set forth by the regulatory acts issued by representative local authorities (laws issued by cities of federal importance Moscow and St. Petersburg); however, these rates can not exceed 0.3 per cent and 1.5 per cent as concerns the respective plots of land.

The law also sets forth that the rates of the land tax being in force in 2004 with the exception of the land tax pertaining to the farm lands should be applied with the coefficient of 1.1.

3. Letter of the RF Tax Service No. 21-3-05/514 of November 29, 2004, explained the issue of penalties for the insufficient advance payments pertaining to the tax on the property of organizations.

The ruling of the Plenum of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation No. of February 28, 2001, On certain issues of enforcement of Section One of the RF Tax Code determines that the penalties stipulated in article 75 of the code may be exacted in the case of the failure to make the advance payment in accordance with the law on the concrete type of the tax.

4. Order of the RF Tax Service No. SAE-3-15/142 of November 30, 2004, approved the model regulations as concerns the Directorates of the Federal Tax Service for RF subjects; as concerns the Interregional Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service for largest taxpayers; as concerns the Interregional Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service for centralized processing of data and certain other documents.

5. Order of the RF Tax Service No. SAE-3-09/141 of November 30, 2004, approved the Methodological instructions for tax agencies as concerns the issues of uniform procedures of registration and deregistration of Russian organizations in relation to reorganization. The organization should notify in writing its local tax agency about its reorganization not later than 3 days since such a decision had been taken.

The local tax agency in the jurisdiction of which is the reorganized legal entity should verify the payments the taxpayer made to the budget and extra-budgetary funds in accordance with the procedure approved by Order of the Federal Tax Service No. SAE-3-27/468 of August 10, 2004, On the approval of the Regulations governing the organization of work with taxpayers. The act of verification of the payments the taxpayer made to the budget and an informational letter containing the data about the control measures carried out with respect to the reorganized organizations (the date of the last on site tax inspection, the date of submission of the last tax and accounting statements, legal proceedings, etc.) should be sent to the tax authority in the jurisdiction of which the organization will be after its reorganization.

6. Letter of the RF Tax Service No. 09-0-10/4909 of December 2, 2004, contained the methodological recommendations On the information the tax authorities provide to legal entities as concerns the publication of materials in the journal Bulletin of State Registration. These recommendations had been elaborated with the purpose of explaining the process of publication of information about legal entities in the journal Bulletin of State Registration as the single publication for the placement of information about legal entities they are obliged to publish about themselves in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

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