Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 150

Although it has now been adopted by the Duma, the 1996 federal budget still has to be approved by the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament. The government is hoping the incumbent Council will find time to debate and approve the budget before its mandate officially expires December 13. Yeltsin discussed this possibility with the speaker of the upper house, Vladimir Shumeiko, by telephone on December 7. Shumeiko said he feared the time remaining was too tight to allow deputies to study the budget properly. "The Duma passed it on December 6 but sometimes the editing takes five or six days," he said. "We will do our best to adopt the budget. If we do, it will be the first time a budget has been passed before the new year starts." (9)

The prospects do not look particularly bright: the chairmen of two key parliamentary committees have already warned that they will argue against adoption unless planned spending is substantially increased in their spheres of interest: agriculture and defense. Their warnings were issued even though, following the Duma’s first reading of the budget, planned spending was increased for both defense and agriculture (as well as for housing construction and law enforcement).

The government is clearly nervous that, if the budget is not approved by the incumbent Federation Council, it may run into unforeseen problems from the next Council, which is still an unknown quantity. It is generally expected that the first session of the newly constituted Federation Council will meet in mid- January, probably at the same time that the new Duma holds its first session. Yeltsin is expected to issue a decree setting the date for the first session of the new Federation Council shortly after the mandate of the present body expires on December 13.

Duma Passes Law on Production Sharing.