Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 219

A delegation from the IMF left Moscow on Tuesday (November 24), reportedly very unsatisfied with the “anticrisis” economic measures which the government of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is carrying out. Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin said Tuesday that the talks between the government and the IMF officials had been conducted in a “normal regime,” but that the visitors had spoken about the need to increase tax revenues and had “claimed” that the anticrisis program includes elements indicating “departures from market relations.” First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov was less euphemistic, saying that while he agrees with the visiting IMF officials that tax collection needed improvements, “there are limits to what we can do.” Maslyukov said the IMF officials had criticized the government’s plans to support Russian companies and had urged an end to government interference in the economy. Maslyukov said the Russian side disagrees with this, adding that while he considers that further talks with the IMF might bear fruit, the Fund does not (Russian agencies, November 24). The IMF mission will return to Moscow in December, but observers doubt that it will disburse any further money from its multibillion-dollar package before the end of the year (Moscow Times, November 25). “Kommersant daily” today quoted Maslyukov as saying that the IMF officials did not like the government’s proposals for changing Russia’s tax system. The newspaper reported that the IMF mission, which was in Moscow for less than a week, did not even get to see what they had come to see–the government’s projected 1999 budget. According to “Kommersant,” the Russian government is split into warring camps. On one side is Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov, who has reportedly decided to oppose any monetary emission to cover the budget deficit. On the other is Maslyukov, who is pushing for an emission, along with State Tax Services chief Georgy Boos, who convinced the government to lower the value-added tax. Zadornov is losing the fight, the newspaper reported (Kommersant daily, November 25).

Meanwhile, August Lopez Carlos, who headed the IMF’s Moscow office from 1992 to 1995, said yesterday that the Fund should not have given Russia any money while Moscow was handing out tax breaks and state property to favored business interests. Speaking to a breakfast organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, Lopez Carlos, who is currently chief Russia and CIS economist at Lehman Brothers, said: “Should the international community have continued to support Russia in the presence of these non-transparent schemes? My own private view is that, no, they shouldn’t have” (Moscow Times, November 25).