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The draft law under observation is aimed to bridge the present gaps in the legislation and eliminate the discrepancies in the regulations set forth by the RF pension legislation. It is necessary to approve the draft law in order to ensure smooth financing of the of the cumulative part of the retirement pension in the Russian Federation.

At the meeting of the RF Government of March 25, 2004, there were reviewed the results of the social and economic development of the Russian Federation in 2003, scenario based forecasts of Russias social and economic development in 2005 through 2007, and parameters of projections with respect to prices (tariffs) on products (services) of natural monopolies for year 2005. The RF Government made a note as concerns the respective report presented by the RF Ministry of Economic Development.

In the course of elaboration of the guidelines of social and economic development of the Russian Federation in 2005 through 2007 and the projections of the federal budget in 2005 through 2007, the RF Government will proceed from the scenario based forecasts of Russias social and economic development in through 2007 and parameters of projections with respect to prices (tariffs) on products (services) of natural monopolies for year 2005 worked out by the RF Ministry of Economic Development in collaboration with interested federal executive authorities.

The medium term forecast of Russias social and economic development was elaborated proceeding from the evaluation of the economic development of the country in 2003 and hypotheses about expected changes in domestic and external conditions of development over this period.

Growth of the world economy The assessments of the rates of growth of the world economy across world regions in the few next years permits to formulate the following hypotheses about growth of the world economy: moderate conservative scenario is based on the assumption that the average annual rates of growth will be at 2.8 per cent, the favorable scenario is based on the growth rates making 3.8 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Euro / US $ exchange rate dynamics In the medium term outlook, the average annual Euro exchange rate may decline from US $ 1.25 per Euro in 2004 to US $ 1.12 per Euro in 2007.

Oil prices According to the forecast concerning the changes in demand for oil presented by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the overall demand for hydrocarbon raw materials may increase at 2 per cent to 4 per cent rate a year, while in Europe this rate will be at 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

The forecast is based on the following scenarios of changes in the Urals oil prices.

Scenario I proceeds from the assumption that there will take place the transition to moderate rates of changes in prices of Russian oil, while the average annual Urals oil price in 2005 through 2007 will make US $ 20 per barrel.

Scenario II proceeds from more favorable dynamics of oil prices (US $ 24 per barrel in 2006 and 2007 and their moderate growth in the few next years).

Export of oil and natural gas The forecasts of export of oil and natural gas across all scenarios proceed from the assumption that demand for oil on the part of all major consumers will be increasing until 2007 and are basically similar to the targets set forth by the Energy Strategy of the Russian Federation for the Long Term Perspective. According to Scenario I, the volumes of oil exports will grow from 188.4 million metric tons in 2002 to 235 million metric tons in 2007, while Scenario II sets the target at 259.8 million metric tons.

On the whole, the forecasts envisage that export of natural gas will increase from 185.5 billion cubic meters in 2002 to 231 billion cubic meters (according to Scenario I) or to 248 billion cubic meters (according to Scenario II) in 2007. The dynamics of natural gas prices are forecasted basing on the dynamics of prices of oil and oil products taking into account a 5 to 6 months lag.

Foreign debt According to both scenarios, the dynamics of payments relating to the foreign debt will correspond to the schedule, no debt restructuring is envisaged. The same relates also to the debt servicing.

In this period, the Russias expenditures for repayment and servicing of its foreign debt will make from US $ 16.3 billion in 2004 and US $ 18.9 billion in 2005 to US $ 14.9 billion in 2007.

Slowdown of inflation According to both scenarios, inflation will decline from 12 per cent in 2003 to 4 per cent to 6 per cent in 2007 and will further decrease to 2 per cent to 4 per cent by 2010.

Levels of prices (tariffs) of goods (services) of natural monopolies According to the estimates, in order to ensure that inflation is at the target level in 2004 through 2007, the contribution of increase in prices of products (services) of natural monopolies should be at or below 2.5 percentage points to 3.5 percentage points a year.

It is recommended to retain the real level of tariffs on electrical power and railroad freight at the level registered in 2005.

It is recommended to raise the real level of natural gas prices until 2009, what, according to preliminary estimates, will permit to ensure competition of natural gas with alternative types of fuel and will create incentives for more rational use of natural gas as a fuel.

Reform of the tax system In 2005, it is planned to increase taxes on the oil extracting industry by amending the procedures governing the calculation of the mineral extraction tax with respect to oil and raise oil export duty in the case high oil prices persist.

Besides, it is envisaged to reduce the effective rate of the single social tax (SST) in 2005. It should result in a decrease in SST generated revenues in 2005 as compared with the figures registered in 2004, however, in the future, as the share of wages and salaries in GDP increases, it is expected that the respective SST revenues will increase.

The expansion of the tax base relating to the growth in gross payroll will entail a growth in revenues generated by the income tax.

Besides, the monetization of a number of social benefits accompanying the reduction of SST will result in a growth in household incomes by Rub. 150 billion a year.

Ruble exchange rate dynamics The dynamics of the Ruble exchange rate will be primarily determined by the scale of supply of foreign exchange earned in the course of trade operations, therefore, they will to a considerable extent depend on the world prices of Russias energy resources and the conditions envisaged in the framework of the scenarios under observation.

According to the scenario envisaging less favorable market situation of Russian exports, average annual rates of Ruble appreciation against foreign currencies will be at or below 3 per cent since 2005.

Creation of the potential for enhancement of investment activity According to preliminary estimates, foreign direct investment should make about US $ 20 billion according to the optimistic forecast and about US $ 11.3 billion according to the pessimistic forecast by 2010.

Macroeconomic forecast for 2004 through 2007.

Macroeconomic indicators of the forecast were elaborated in accordance with two scenarios taking into account the impact of the future conditions and factors.

In 2004, the contribution of external economic factors in the growth in GDP will remain at approximately the level registered in 2003. For instance, in the case oil prices will be higher than the average level observed over the decade, it will contribute 2.0 percentage points in the growth of GDP. Internal factors (an increase in real household incomes and investment in fixed assets) account for an increase of GDP by 4.4 percentage points.

The structure of external demand will differ significantly depending on the scenario. According to Scenario I, in the situation of moderately low world prices of energy goods and a lower Ruble exchange rate, in the value structure of exports there will continue to increase the share of products of the manufacturing sector, in particular, of machinery and equipment. The second scenario envisages the continuation of a growth in the share of the energy sector and, as concerns other industries, of the share of export of machinery and equipment. In the short term outlook, the dynamics of imports will be determined by a gradual Ruble appreciation, needs of technological modernization of the growing economy, increase in the disposable earnings of enterprises and households. At the same time, Scenario II envisages that in the more favorable export situa tion the Ruble will appreciate at a faster rate, what, in combination with a significant growth in consumer and investment demand will result in an increase in demand for imports.

On the whole, in the medium term perspective, the active balance of goods and services will be declining, although in the situation envisaged in Scenario II this decline will be more smooth.

The positive dynamics of final consumption will be primarily determined by the growth in final household consumption, what is related to the growth in real disposable household incomes. At the same time, the distorted structure of the income distribution will persist, therefore, the objective to reduce the scale of poverty remains a priority. The calculations based on the potential of the economy demonstrate that the real household incomes may increase at rates outpacing growth in GDP by 2 to 4 percentage points in the framework of both scenarios.

A decrease in the tax burden on the economy will also facilitate the development of processes of legalization of wages and salaries. According to estimates, in 2007 the share of gross payroll in GDP may increase to 30.4 per cent as compared with 24.5 per cent registered in 2003.

The outpacing growth in real incomes should ensure an increase in the share of consumption in GDP in the medium term outlook. At the same time, the trend towards changes in the consumer household expenditures will persist. In the structure of consumer spending, there will increase the share of consumption of nonfood goods and services, while the share of food products will decline. By 2007, the final household consumption is expected to grew by 106 per cent to 107.1 per cent depending on the scenario.

By 2007, the real disposable household incomes should increase by 36 per cent to 42 per cent as compared with the figures registered in 2003.

As concerns the sources of investment, borrowings will play a more important role. The growth in borrowings will primarily occur at the expense of bank credits and foreign investment, which compensate for the decline in the share of budget funds.

According to the forecast, in the period until 2007 the amount of own funds remaining at the disposal of enterprises will increase in nominal terms approximately 1.5 times by 2003, at the same time the disposable profits will grow 1.33 times, and the amount of amortization will increase 1.6 times. It is also expected that the share of profits allocated for investment in the total amount of profits will increase (up to 85 per cent in 2007), while amortization will also grow (up to 45 per cent to 46 per cent by 2007).

As a result, the nominal amount of resources allocated for investment in fixed assets from all sources of financing will increase 1.9 to 2.1 times in the period from 2004 till 2007, what corresponds to the real growth 1.38 to 1.46 times, taking into account the index deflator of investment.

The growth in investment and consumer demand will ensure stable rates of growth in industry. Industrial output will increase in 2007 by 4.6 per cent to 5.7 per cent in comparison with the figures registered in the preceding year, while growing by 19.2 per cent to 23.8 per cent in comparison with the levels observed in 2003.

Output of agricultural produce will increase by 16 per cent to 17 per cent as compared with the figures registered in 2003.

Level of prices and tariffs on products and services of natural monopolies The analysis of the impact of rise in regulated prices and tariffs on products and services of natural monopolies on the economy in 2000 through 2003 confirms that the high level of energy consumption of industrial production, especially as concerns industry, has a constraining effect on the rates of economic growth.

According to the conducted studies, the contribution of the increase in prices of products and services of natural monopolies in the total rise in the consumer prices made from 3.7 percentage points to 4.3 percentage points in 2000 through 2003, what made about one third of the annual inflation rates in the respective years.

The RF Ministry of Economic Development and Trade believes that it would be feasible to set the parameters of growth in consumer prices resulting from the increase in prices and tariffs on products and services of natural monopolies at a level at or below 30 per cent to 35 per cent of the projected target inflation rates.

Taking into account the fact that in 2005 inflation should decline to 6.5 per cent to 8.5 per cent (as compared with 10 per cent registered in 2004), the contribution of the rise in regulated prices and tariffs in inflation will be at or below 2.6 p. p. to 2.7 p. p. in 2005, 2.3 p. p. to 2.4 p. p. in 2006, and 1.9 p. p. to 2 p. p. in 2007 respectively.

The RF Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the RF Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Industry and Power Engineering, the Ministry of Social Development and Public Health with participation of other interested federal executive authorities and the Bank of Russia were charged to elaborate the presented draft scenarios taking into account the results of the discussion, focusing on such issues as:

- implementation of measures aimed at acceleration of the rates of growth in gross domestic product;

- impact of planned changes in the tax legislation on the key macroeconomic indicators;

- substantiation of maximal levels of prices (tariffs) of products (services) of natural monopolies, including natural gas;

- more precisely define oil prices and amounts of oil exports;

- etc.

At the meeting, it was decided that elaborated scenario based forecast should be submitted to the RF executive authorities so they could work out the respective recommendations with respect to key parameters of the forecast of social and economic development of the Russian Federation in 2005 through 2007, before April 1, 2004.

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