The Latest: Putin says Russia seeks to streamline tax system

Vladimir Putin
The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on President Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in television show (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the government will be looking to streamline the tax system in order to fight poverty.

Putin said on his annual call-in show on Thursday that one of the goals of his presidency is to halve the number of Russians living below the poverty line, which currently stands at over 20 million people. The government will need 8 trillion rubles ($129 billion) on measures to lift people out of poverty, Putin said.

Responding to speculation that authorities might be looking to scrap the flat income tax, Putin said his government has decided that this is “not expedient” at this point. Putin said the funds will have to come from streamlining the tax system but stopped short of saying whether that means actual tax hikes.

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12:20 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says he’s confident of Russia’s long-term economic growth.

Speaking at the opening of his annual call-in television show, Putin said on Thursday that Russia’s gross domestic product is currently 1.5 percent higher than a year ago. He described it as modest but said he is confident that future “growth is guaranteed.”

Putin hosts call-in shows every year, which typically provide a platform for ordinary Russians to appeal to the president on issues ranging from foreign policy to housing and utilities.

This is Putin’s first live televised show since he was re-elected in March for a term of office that runs until 2024.

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