New political season opens in Russia as MPs return to work

Other News Materials 6 September 2006 12:36 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) -Russia's new political year opens in earnest Wednesday as members of the lower chamber of parliament convene for their first plenary session after the summer recess, reports Trend.

Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the State Duma, said the draft 2007 budget and over 50 other priority bills were on the top of the agenda for the fall session, which runs until the end of December.

Gryzlov said lawmakers intended to pass the draft budget as soon as possible, adding that there would be less risk the government would fail to implement the budget if the Duma adopted it early. He said the draft budget addressed economic development, the social sphere and regional policy.

Deputies will review the bill in the first reading as early as September 22, and in the fourth and the final reading in late November, two weeks earlier than last year, the speaker said. Other bills have to go through three readings, but the budget is an exception.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said in late August that the 2007 draft budget projected a considerable increase in government expenditures on the social sphere and the economy.

"The 2007 budget differs considerably from the budgets of the previous years: its expenditures exceed the 2006 budget spending by more than 1,000 billion rubles (about $37 billion) or by one-fourth," Zhukov said. "These additional funds will be used to increase the budget's social spending and expenditures on the national economy."

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said the budget had been drawn up with a surplus of 1.5 trillion rubles ($55.5 bln), or 4.8% of GDP.

Budget revenues in 2007 are projected at 6.9 trillion rubles ($260 bln, or 22.3% of GDP) and expenditures are set at 5.4 trillion rubles ($203 bln, or 17.5% of GDP).

Gryzlov said the Duma would also discuss amendments to tax and election legislation, a draft law on anti-terrorism and a bill on an amnesty for militants across the North Caucasus who laid down their arms in return for an objective investigation.

The Kremlin declared the amnesty in July until August 1 but later extended it until September 30. Chechnya's president, Alu Alkhanov, has requested that the federal authorities extend the amnesty deadline until January 1.