Acting Minister of the Economy Andrei Shapovalyants forecasts a one percent decline in gross domestic product (GDP) for 1999, to around five trillion rubles (about US$200 billion at current exchange rates). Before he resigned, Mikhail Zadornov predicted that GDP would grow in 2000 by 1.5 percent…. Minister for Social Policy Valentina Matvienko, reappointed, claims progress in reducing wage arrears, with the average public-sector employee being owed just 40 days’ pay. (Public-sector pay is current in Moscow and St. Petersburg, she said)…. Outgoing tax chief Georgy Boos told a Moscow press conference that his office planned to cut taxes by 25 billion rubles ($1 billion) in the second half, because tax collection in the first half is going so well. Boos’ portfolio has gone back to Aleksandr Pochinok, who was fired a year ago for inadequate tax collection. … Russia has asked foreign private-sector (London Club) creditors for a six-month delay in payments falling due June 2, which by some reckoning total $578 million, but as of May 31 creditors had not agreed to the postponement. Default seems likely.