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08/17/1998 20:19:36 Russia needs right policy,not new cash-US official

WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Russia must meet its promises on taxes, bank reform and legal issues to build its economy "from the ground up," a senior U.S. administration official said on Monday. Asked about the possibility of new bilateral aid for Russia from the Group of Seven industrialized countries, the official, who asked not to be identified, said: "At this point we believe that what is important is a combination of sound policy and the IMF and the continued provision...of the program that was agreed with the IMF." The official said that the Russians had asked the International Monetary Fund whether the global financial community might be prepared to make more money available. "I think the feeling, which to my knowledge was unanimous among the G7 countries, was that at this point the primary issues to the Russian situation did not go to the adequacy of external official finance," he said. He said the G7 -- Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and the United States -- had expressed concern about Russia's plans, which included the de facto devaluation of the rouble and a moratorium on some foreign debts. But the decision was up to Russia. "I think it should be very clear that no one should ever be satisfied with those kinds of measures," the official said, adding: "These were steps for the Russians to take, not for us to determine." The official made clear the Russian central bank and the government would have key roles in ensuring that any fall in the rouble did not trigger hyperinflation. "What will be crucial is Russia's ability to avoid excessive money creation and that in turn depends on sustainable fiscal policy," he said. The official said proposals to introduce a currency board, a rigid system which pegs the rouble against another currency, could be analyzed if the Russian authorities believed the system would be a good one. But the viability of such a move would depend on circumstances and on the government's policy commitments. ((Washington newsroom, +1 202 898 8309, washington.economic.newsroom@reuters.com))

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