Tax arrears accrued before 2009 will be written off in the second quarter of next year, says Vladimir Putin, who also defended Russia’s flat-rate income tax. Russia may be forced to ‘pre-emptively’ cut interest rates by half a percentage point in order to protect its economy. Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina says she will ‘do my best’ to ensure that a proposed sales tax does not exist simultaneously with the current VAT. A five-year $1.5 billion modernisation program to rejuvenate the All-Russia Exhibition Center will begin next year. The Federal Tourism Agency plans to spend $60 million over the next six years on an advertising campaign designed to draw foreigners and ‘motivate Russians to go on holiday in Russia’. The federal bureaucracy currently occupies 407,139 square meters in downtown Moscow, in property estimated to be worth $2 billion.