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German Gref spoke Friday about Gazprom's liberalization, Svyazinvest's privatization, VAT cuts, and inflation
Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref spoke Friday about Gazprom's liberalization, Svyazinvest's privatization, VAT cuts, and inflation. He said the ministry would submit a series of documents on the liberalization of Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom to the government next week after final coordination with the Federal Service for Financial Markets and the Federal Agency for the Management of Federal Property. Gref also said Gazprom would pay for the 72.7% stake in Sibneft oil major, which it agreed to buy from tycoon Roman Abramovich in late September, in instalments. The company said Friday it had signed the deal and now held the property rights. The minister did not comment on whether the gas giant would buy out Sibneft before the end of the year but said the company had no problems attracting a loan. Gref also said the ministry was finalizing a decree on the privatization of telecommunications holding Svyazinvest, taking into account the technical recommendations of the Russian Security Council. Gref said he still opposed reducing VAT from 18% to 13% but added that the ministry was following the government's instructions and calculating the reduction without unifying the flat rate. The minister said VAT could be cut to 16% in 2007, if the flat rate were equal. Gref also said that inflation would total 0.6% in October, against 1.1% last October. He said prices had grown by 0.3% in the first 17 days of October. In the first nine months of 2005, inflation totalled 8.6%, but the government said it would keep annual inflation within 10%-11%.
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