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The government expects the Duma to introduce at least 1,500 amendments to the third reading of the 2005 budget
Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said this at a conference between the Russian president and the cabinet. "The deadline for drafting amendments to the third reading in the Duma will expire on November 1, and we expect at least 1,500 amendments to be introduced," he said. According to Mr. Kudrin, a trilateral commission will gather for tomorrow's session of representatives of both parliamentary houses to consider the method of transfer and allowances distribution. He noted that the criteria of supporting the regions was being worked out. Mr. Kudrin also said that the commission for the budget's closed articles had started to work. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov spoke about preventing the growth of prices for military equipment due to the increase in the defense order. "Next year, the defense order will increase by 50 billion rubles [about $1.7 billion], and we should not only spend it wisely but also prevent the growth of prices for military equipment," Mr. Ivanov said at the conference. The minister also reported the results of his tour of defense sector enterprises in the Volga and Urals military district where, in particular, "the pricing issue was seriously considered." According to Mr. Ivanov, the defense order for these companies will increase by 1 billion rubles next year. The minister talked about his visit to the Votkinsky plant producing advanced equipment such as Iskander and Bulava missiles. As for his visit to defense enterprises in Kurgan producing ICVs (infantry combat vehicles), Mr. Ivanov said that the size of purchase would be increased three-fold. The minister also said that the deployment of the first peacekeeping brigade formed on the contract basis had been determined. It will be stationed in Samara (the Volga area) and operate in the CIS and under the UN aegis, if need be. The minister of economic development and trade, German Gref, in turn said that the growth of the GDP accounted for 4.5% in September and of industrial output 3.5%. By annual GDP growth is expected to account for 6.9%, the minister added. In his words, the third quarter will see some decrease in the growth rate, above all in machine building. In September, this decrease accounted for 1.9%. At the same time, the minister continued, favorable weather conditions and early harvest can positively affect the GDP growth. He said that the rate of inflation stood at 8.8% since the beginning of the year. "If the dynamics is retained, this figure may be even higher than was expected early this year," said Mr. Gref. At the same time, prices for oil products have decreased by 70%, Mr. Gref emphasized. Vladimir Putin in turn remarked, "We will talk about this in more detail later. I would the analysis to be profound and contain offers." Vladimir Putin asked how the Russia-EU summit would be held if the new line-up of the commission would not have been determined by November 11. Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov replied that the summit would be held with the old members of the European Commission. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continued that his last week's meeting with the EU Troika in The Hague had highlighted issues of preparing the upcoming Russia-EU summit. "Despite intensive consultations, there is some slowdown on behalf of our European partners due to the changes in the European Commission composition," said Mr. Lavrov. The Defense Minister said that a medium-class Soyuz-M2 missile carrier with some military cargo was to be launched from the northern Russian launching site Plesetsk on October 29. "This is a missile of dual purpose that allows civilian and commercial cargoes to be placed into orbit," said Mr. Ivanov. He added that there were some plans to discuss the use of this missile in launches from the Kourou launch pad. Vladimir Putin has instructed Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Minister of Social Development and Health Mikhail Zurabov to arrange a large-scale conference on healthcare development issues. "Let us not delay this meeting and hold it in a wider format with the participation of medics, representatives of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and medical public," the president said at a conference with government members
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