Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 208

The government today is presenting its anticrisis economic program to the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. Although the session is closed to the press, NTV television reported this morning that First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov had outlined two possible scenarios for the economy. The first was an “optimistic” one, contingent on the IMF releasing more than US$4 billion in promised aid. The second was “pessimistic.” In it the IMF fails to come through. Maslyukov repeated the promise he made last week that any monetary emission will be “noninflationary.” Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is expected to address the Duma later on Tuesday (NTV, November 10).

In an interview with ORT television on Saturday, Maslyukov called the program “centrist,” saying that it was aimed at a “socially oriented” market economy. Maslyukov said Russia was in no condition to make impending payments on its external debt ($3.5 billion is due this year, US$17.5 billion next year). If a restructuring agreement could not be reached with foreign creditors, he said, Russia would either have to cut expenditures or borrow more from abroad. Maslyukov also said that Russia could use increased gold production to help finance the budget deficit. “Producers say they now have 65 tons of gold they can give us,” he said. “We could give this gold to the Central Bank as a credit, to issue bonds.” Maslyukov said that no more than 15 billion rubles (US$1 billion) would be printed before year’s end, and that the ruble would not be allowed to fall below 20 to the dollar (Russian agencies, November 8).

“Kommersant daily,” however, claimed today that without the IMF money (Maslyukov’s “pessimistic” scenario, the newspaper said, was inevitable) the deficit for the fourth-quarter budget this year will be 118.5 billion rubles (close to US$8 billion). The paper predicted a huge inflationary upsurge in the near future (Kommersant daily, November 10).