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Learning English - Words in the News
 
24 June, 2005 - Published 10:25 GMT
 
Russian economy debate
 
Moscow

The Russian Economy Ministry in Moscow says consumer spending is the only part of the economy that will show significant growth this year. In a report, the ministry echoed a warning issued by the International Monetary Fund, of decreasing growth rates, the dangers of inflation and poor levels of investment in Russia. This report from Steven Eke:

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Looking at Moscow's booming shopping malls or elite supermarkets, it's easy to think there isn't that much wrong with the Russian economy. But there's a growing chorus of expert and political opinion, warning of serious disbalances that threaten to knock economic progress off course. Today's simultaneous warnings from the IMF and the Economy Ministry in Moscow are a clear sign of this.

Household spending is continuing to grow strongly, part of a consumer-driven boom and a burgeoning personal credit sector. But elsewhere, the outlook isn't so good. There is pressure to stop using the country's glut of oil dollars to pay off national debt. But to invest it --- in areas like hi-tech industry, infrastructure and housing reform.

Russia produces very few internationally marketable consumer goods. And even former flagship industries like civilian aircraft construction, are close to extinction. There are serious disagreements between the minister of finance and the minister of economic development over which course to take. Much to the frustration of the prime minister, whose popularity is waning. And who was today reported to have boiled over at a government meeting, telling ministers to "find ways" of meeting the national target of doubling GDP by early next decade.

Foreign businesses may also be concerned by a new draft bill the Russian government has presented to the country's parliament. In what appears to be blatant protectionism, the bill, if adopted, would seriously limit foreigners' rights to develop Russian oil and metal deposits, describing them as "vital strategic national interests".

Steven Eke, BBC News

Listen to the words

chorus of expert and political opinion
(the sound of) a large group of people expressing their professional or political views

disbalances
situations when things don't exist in equal amounts, when there is too much of something and/or not enough of something else

to knock economic progress off course
to suddenly stop or slow down the growth in the economy

Household spending
the money families spend on things for their home, for example food, clothes, etc.

a consumer-driven boom
a growth (in economy) which is helped by people spending money

glut
a situation in which there's more of something than is needed or can be used

flagship
here: the most important product, service, building, etc. that a country or a company owns

extinction
a situation when something (here: an industry) stops existing

waning
becoming gradually weaker or less important

blatant protectionism
a very obvious practice of protecting a country's own industry (by taxing foreign goods)

 
 
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