RUSAG-L: Current Events #47

Please keep in mind that the following current events information
represents information about events in Russian agriculture we
received during the past week, while the actual events may have
occurred earlier.

The sources for the information below include, but are not
limited to, the following:  the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Daily Report (RFE/RL), Interfax News, Food and Agriculture
Report, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service at the Central
Intelligence Agency's Central Eurasia Daily Report (FBIS),
Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., and The Washington
Post.

The Russian Agricultural ListServ is sponsored by the University
of Maryland College of Agriculture at College Park, the Research
and Scientific Exchanges Division, Foreign Agriculture
Service/International Cooperation and Development, U.S.
Department of Agriculture, and the National Committee on
International Science and Education of the Joint Council on Food
and Agricultural Sciences.

22 December 1994:
-According to the Washington Post, the current exchange rate is
R3383 per dollar.  (The Washington Post, December 22, 1994)

-The Russian State Duma rejected the draft 1995 budget on the
first reading December 21.  Another vote will be taken today,
December 22, by a plenary session of the lower house.  The
government's draft envisions revenues of 156.2 trillion rubles,
expenditures of 228.1 trillion rubles, and a deficit of 7.7
percent of GDP.  However, the costly war in Chechnya may force
the government to revise its revenue estimates.  According to
Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov, the military operation has
already cost Russia 400 billion rubles or $117 million.  (RFE/RL,
December 22, 1994)

21 December 1994:
-Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister, Anatolii Chubais,
announced that President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree
requiring companies to pay for goods and services within three
months of delivery.  Defaulters will face stiff state penalties
if they do not comply with the decree.  Nonpayments to
enterprises have led to falling production and delays in the
payment of wages.  In addition, enterprises have been deprived of
much needed capital for investment.  The decree is scheduled
to take effect January 1, 1995.  (RFE/RL, December 21, 1994)

-Russian Economic Minister Evgenii Yasin says the government
plans to stimulate private investment in industry by mixing
public and private financing.  For example, Yasin noted that the
state would cover 20 percent of the costs of projects carried out
by private companies.  The government expects to spend as much as
1 trillion rubles in 1995 on such projects.  (RFE/RL, December
21, 1994)

19 December 1994:
-The State Duma has received a proposal from the government to
centralize foreign economic activity in the state and private
sectors.  The central provision calls for a state monopoly in
several import and export branches.  Deputy Foreign Minister of
Trade, Mikhail Fradkov, says the goal of the bill is "to protect
the economic security of Russia."  Officials have become
concerned about statistics, showing that Russia's import of food
has moved to the top of Russia's foreign imports' list.  Experts
expect the bill, if passed, to increase corruption among
officials who issue quotas and licenses, instead of actually
protecting Russian domestic food supplies.  (RFE/RL, December 19,
1994)

2-9 December 1994:
-A new law signed by President Boris Yeltsin delineates the
procedures on procuring supplies and agricultural produce and
food for state needs.  The law states that farmers own all that
they produce and may dispose of it as they see fit.  The law also
provides for the free movement of agricultural produce,
commodities, and food around the country.  In addition, the law
stipulates that the federal government will purchase food for the
federal reserve for areas such as the Far North, the army,
polluted areas, Moscow and St. Petersburg, and exports.  Local
needs must be supplied by the regions.  Neither federal nor local
governments may use budget money to import foods, except in the
Far North.  (Interfax, Food and Agriculture Report, December 2-9,
1994, p. 2)

-The winter grain areas in Russia continue to shrink.  Russian
farmers sowed only 14.2 million hectares with winter grains and
green foods this fall.  The winter crops traditionally produce up
to one-third of overall Russian grain production.  The crop area
shrank by 1 million ha last year and by 5 million ha over the
past 5 years.  As a result, government officials expect Russian
farmers to produce only 85 million tons of grain in 1995.  This
corresponds with this year's production, the lowest since 1981.
(Interfax, Food and Agriculture Report, December 2-9, 1994, p. 2)

-At a Moscow conference of farmers on reform, First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatolii Chubais told Russian farmers and top agrarian
officials that the Russian government would cut lending rates to
farmers from the current 170-180 percent to 30-50 percent in
1995.  Chubais said the government intended to focus on backing
private farming in 1995, since private farmers only received 3
percent and 2.5 percent of all government aid in 1993 and in
1994.  Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha and Minister of
Agriculture Alexander Nazarchuk attended the conference, along
with 300 farmers and farm officials from 52 Russian regions.
(Interfax, Food and Agriculture Report, December 2-9, 1994, p. 3)

-In an attempt to regain shares in Japan's timber markets,
Roslesprom, Russia's state-owned timber company, signed an
agreement to increase Russian timber exports to Japan by 50
percent.  In return, Japan agreed to supply equipment, spare
parts, and other inputs.  The Japanese, according to Roslesprom's
chairman, also showed interest in developing a joint venture to
modernize a pulp and paper mill on Sakhalin Island and to put new
paper grades into production in Russia.  Roslesprom, which
exported 4.88 million m3 of round timber and 400,000 m3 of
sawtimber to Japan in 1994, expects to eventually increase export
levels to 10 million m3.  (Interfax, Food and Agriculture Report,
December 2-9, 1994, p. 7)

ALBANIA:

15 December 1994:
-Albania's unemployment registered a slight drop in the third
quarter of 1994.  Some 261,000 workers remain unemployed (18 per
cent) out of a total labor force of 1.423 million.  The bulk of
Albania's labor force, 750,000 people, is employed in the
agricultural sector.  In fact, in the last nine months, more than
120,000 people have found jobs in private agriculture.  (RFE/RL,
December 15, 1994)

BULGARIA:

19 December 1994:
-International reports show that, with 75 percent of the vote
counted, Bulgaria's Socialist Party has won a majority in the new
parliament.  The Socialist Party, a successor to the Communist
Party, won between 42-43 percent of the votes or between 118 and
120 seats in the 240-seat legislature.  The Union of Democratic
Forces, the largest alliance of opposition parties, gained 23-24
percent of the vote.  According to observers, the main reason the
Socialist Party won such a large percent of the vote is the Union
of Democratic Forces' failure to solve Bulgaria's grave economic
problems and to stem the growing crime rate.  (RFE/RL, December
19, 1994)


THE NEXT RUSAG REPORT WILL BE DURING THE WEEK OF JANUARY 1.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Betty Brown