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08/21/1998 15:57:29 Russia '98 current account deficit 1.5-2 pct-c.bank

MOSCOW, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Russia is now running a current

account deficit of between 1.5 and two percent of the gross

domestic product, a top central bank official said on Friday.

"A current account deficit is in place in Russia, and we

estimate it to be from 1.5 to two percent of GDP this year, but

we do believe that our measures will help to finance this

deficit," First Central Bank Deputy Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko

told Reuters Television.

Aleksashenko, speaking in a live conference call with

financial analysts, said International Monetary Fund and World

Bank support would also help to cover the deficit.

Last year Russia had a current account surplus equal to 0.7

percent of GDP.

Aleksashenko said Russia's programme for tackling the

financial crisis, agreed with the IMF last month as part of a

deal to secure $11.2 billion in new credits, was still in place.

"We will do our best to achieve all the goals," he added.

However, analysts still had doubts about where Russia would

find the dollars to meet its foreign debt obligations.

"I suspect there are still some doubts as to where the

dollar financing comes from next, and it's not possible to give

a clean bill of health to the question of external default,"

said Richard Gray, an analyst at Bank of America in London.

Duncan Webster at Hypo Bank in Munich also had doubts over

the balance of payments.

"There's going to have to be a major turnaround in the

current account and that's going to keep investors very nervous

about the prospects for a significant further rouble

devaluation," he said.

((Julie Tolkacheva, Moscow Newsroom, +7095 941-8520

moscow.newsroom@reuters.com))

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