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Fund for Start-Ups Gets Extra Cash

The government will increase its funding of a program that provides assistance to those starting their own business, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said Wednesday.

"From the point of view of creating jobs, the program to create an own business is, of course, the most effective, and we'll appropriate more funds for it this year," he said at a meeting in Yekaterinburg, Itar-Tass reported. He did not indicate what the new funding level would be.

In 2009, the number of people who started a small business increased fivefold from 2008, Zhukov said. Last year, 101,200 people took part in the program, the Health and Social Development Ministry said in January.

The program, launched by the government last year, currently provides 60,000 ruble ($2,000) subsidies to jobless people who want to start their own business and can present a successful plan. This year, entrepreneurs will also get a 58,800 ruble bonus for every job created, the ministry said.

About 140 jobless people in Asbest, a single-industry town, received 58,000 rubles in financial support through the program, Zhukov said, adding that most of the entrepreneurs were "successfully developing" their businesses creating new jobs.

But such funding may not be enough to solve the unemployment problem in single-industry towns, said Igor Bolotov, head of the Regional Development Ministry's monitoring department.

As much as 1 trillion rubles is needed to support employment in these towns, while there is only 25 billion rubles appropriated for this year, he said.

The number of registered unemployed has decreased for the first time since the beginning of this year as of March 3, Zhukov said, but the total jobless rate has continued to increase.

The total jobless rate was 9.2 percent in January, up from 8.2 percent in December, the State Statistics Service said last week.

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