Russian News From Russia: March 17th, 2009!

RBC News Source: March 17th, 2009!

Wage arrears rising in Russia: Wage arrears for a range of monitored economic activities reached RUB 8.087bn (approx. USD 232.12m) as of March 1, 2009, up 16.1 percent from February 1, 2009, the Federal State Statistics Service said. Wage arrears accounted for 2 percent of the total monthly payroll. In the area of education, health care and social services, overdue salaries were at just 0.2 percent. In agriculture, the debt stood at 5 percent.

Russia to continue support for Abkhazia, S. Ossetia: Russia is set to continue financial support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2010-2011 in the framework of a three-year budget, Deputy Finance Minister Anton Siluanov stated today. He did not specify the exact amount of funds to be allotted in 2010-2011, however, noting simply that it would by no means be smaller than in 2009. This year, RUB 2.36bn and RUB 2.8bn (approx. USD 67.74m and USD 80.37m) will be allotted to the budgets of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively. Furthermore, Siluanov noted, Russia is pondering loans to the two republics to finance profit making projects.

Russia estimates Pension Fund’s surplus in 2009: Russia’s Pension Fund surplus is estimated at RUB 241.5bn (approx. USD 6.93bn) in 2009, according to the documents prepared for the fund’s upcoming board meeting. Meanwhile, the share of budget funds allocated to the fund is expected to go up from 52 percent to 63 percent. The documents also state that the fund’s budget will be revised, and its total revenue is projected at RUB 3.282 trillion (approx. USD 94.2bn), and expenditures at RUB 3.040 trillion (approx. USD 87.3bn). The share of the fund’s revenue and expenditures is expected to amount to 81 percent and 7.5 percent of GDP, respectively.

Russia, Afghanistan join forces to fight drug trafficking: Russia and Afghanistan have signed an agreement on fighting drug trafficking and the illicit trade of psychotropic substances and their precursors. The accord was signed by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta during the Russian minister’s visit to Kabul. Both sides stressed the particular importance of the document as a major incentive for joint efforts in the area. They also underscored the significance of regional cooperation in counteracting terrorism and drug trafficking, especially between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and hailed the upcoming ad hoc conference to be held in Afghanistan under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Russia calls for changes in international budgetary policies: Russia has called upon the leaders of G20 to develop and adopt internationally agreed standards in the field of macroeconomic and budgetary policies which would be mandatory for leading global economies, including countries issuing reserve currencies. These suggestions are listed in the proposals circulated by the Russian president’s press office for the upcoming G20 summit in London, scheduled for April 2009.

Russia urges reserve currency diversification: Russia insists on settling accounts and setting prices on the international market in the currencies of countries that meet certain global requirements for their economic development and financial systems. The idea has been expressed in Russia’s suggestions for the G20 summit in London that will take place in April 2009.