The new cabinet met for the first time yesterday to consider the 1997 federal budget, which law requires to be presented to the Duma by the end of this month. After seven hours of debate, the draft was sent back to the Finance Ministry to be reworked in light of the decisions of the meeting. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin predicted that further changes will be made when the draft budget is discussed by parliament but, he told Russian television, "It is already possible to predict that 1997 will be the year when the economy finally starts to grow." (ORT, August 22)
There was welcome news for the government yesterday with the IMF’s announcement that it was releasing the delayed July tranche, worth $340 million, of its $10.1 billion extended loan to Russia. The IMF said it was satisfied with the government’s efforts to improve tax collection, one of the conditions for release of the tranche. Also gratifying for the government was the news that, for the first time since market reforms began, Russia had recorded negative inflation, with consumer prices falling 0.1 percent in the week August 13-19. The decline was attributed to a fall in food prices in the summer months. Newly appointed finance minister Aleksandr Livshits has predicted an annual rate of 10 percent in 1997. (Russian Radio, August 15 and 19)
Russian Communist Appointed CIS Affairs Minister.