Russia to leave budget rule unchanged - agency cites deputy PM

MOSCOW, April 26 Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:58am EDT

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MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) - Russia has decided not to change its basic budget rule limiting the amount of oil revenues which the government spends, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said in comments cited by RIA news agency.

He said senior economic officials had discussed the matter at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

"A decision was taken that our basic budget rule will remain unchanged. And we will spend exactly within the limits of this budget rule, that is to behave extremely responsibly and in quite a disciplined way," RIA quoted Shuvalov as telling Rossiya 1 television in an interview.

Debate has been raging within the government over the rule, which is designed to protect government finances against falls in the oil price. The rule limits government borrowing to 1 percent of economic output and links government spending to the long-run oil price.

Earlier this month Shuvalov said Russia might change the rule to cope with an additional population of about 2 million people in Crimea, which it annexed last month.

Russia's Economy Ministry has called for the rule to be modified to enable more government spending to boost flagging economic growth.

However, the Finance Ministry has fiercely opposed softening the rule, arguing that it should instead be tightened to protect vulnerable government finances.

Putin said earlier this month he "would not hurry" with changing fiscal rules. (Reporting by Jason Bush; Editing by Mark Potter)

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