Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 133

The Duma begins debating the redrafted 1996 budget tomorrow. The new draft, amended by a commission of representatives from both houses of parliament and the government, envisages a deficit of 88.5 billion rubles ($19.6 million) or 3.85 percent of the gross domestic product. The commission based the budget on a monthly inflation target of 1.9 percent, revised up from 1.2 percent in the government’s original draft.

The Duma Budget Committee’s amendments to the 1995 federal budget call for increasing expenditures by 27.9 trillion rubles, primarily in allocations to the Pension Fund, defense (increased by 6.8 trillion rubles) and law-enforcement agencies (an additional 2.9 trillion rubles), as well as to agencies involved in reconstruction of Chechnya (in addition to 5.65 trillion rubles allocated to Chechnya under the "Other Expenditures" article of the budget). Science and fundamental research efforts will receive only an additional 533.6 billion rubles. (8)

The amendments reflect short-term, election-year priorities. The increased spending on pensions and law and order are of special concern to those who vote in the largest numbers (pensioners and military personnel and their families). The politicians cannot easily forego spending to improve morale in the military and to finance efforts to bring Chechnya to heel without risking major domestic upheaval. Relative to these other categories, however, fundamental science and research, which are proven keys to long-term self-sustaining economic growth and military competitiveness, are being shortchanged.

Sukhoi Considers Supersonic Jet.