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Russian finance minister sees no need to attract outside financing

May 17, 11:21 UTC+3
Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says it’s absolutely not crucial for the budget whether we enter or not enter foreign markets
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© Dmitriy Rogulin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov sees no need to attract outside financing now, he said in an interview aired by the Rossiya-24 TV news channel Tuesday.

"I have to say that we don’t face a necessity to attract outside financing," he said, adding that foreign markets entry or non-entry is not crucial for Russian budget.

"It’s absolutely not crucial for the budget whether we enter or not enter foreign markets. We will find sources for financing budget deficit on the Russian financial market," he said.

"The countries that enter international markets have problems with balance of payments as they need currency for their debts’ repayment. We don’t have problems with currency. We see gold and foreign currency reserves growing. That’s why last year by taking the decision to enter foreign markets in 2016 and including it in the budget we simply wanted to confirm our presence on international markets," Siluanov said.

He added that a number of investors expected Russia to issue eurobonds. "Currently we’re considering what to do next, given the current environment. But I have to say that even in case we don’t borrow those funds internationally we will raise them locally. Those are only 3 billion US dollars whereas we have borrowed much more over the past years," he said.

"The countries that enter international markets have problems with balance of payments as they need currency for their debts’ repayment. We don’t have problems with currency. We see gold and foreign currency reserves growing. That’s why last year by taking the decision to enter foreign markets in 2016 and including it in the budget we simply wanted to confirm our presence on international markets. We are aware of the fact that a number of investors expected Russia to issue eurobonds. Currently we’re considering what to do next, given the current environment. But I have to say that even in case we don’t borrow those funds internationally we will raise them locally. Those are only 3 billion US dollars whereas we have borrowed much more over the past years," Siluanov said.

The Finance Ministry expects inflation in Russia at 6% or lower in the end of 2016, Siluanov said. "Inflation in annual terms is now about 7%, and we expect it to reduce to around 6% in the end of the year, even, perhaps, to be a little lower," he said.

Russia’s Central Bank forecasts inflation at 6-7% in the end of the year, while the Economic Development Ministry expects inflation to be at 6-5%.

The Central Bank’s inflation target is 4% in 2017. In its basic scenario the Economic Development Ministry finds this target unrealistic and expects the inflation to reach 4.9% in 2017.

Approval of strategy for reduction of budget deficit will enable Central Bank to lower key rate further, the minister continued. "The recent meeting of the Central Bank’s board of directors did not see a decision made to cut the rate despite a decline in inflation, which was mainly due to the fact that no final decisions have been worked out to ensure budget sustainability over the midterm, so this factor is crucial," Siluanov said.

The ministry forecasts growth of revenues from excise duties on spirits by 10% in 2016, he added. "We expect an increase in revenues to be not less than 10%," he said. 

Increase of state companies’ dividends pushes up their responsibility for investment programs, Siluanov went on. 

"The increase of dividends pushed up the responsibility of state companies for their policy, particularly in the sphere of investment and development," he said.

According to Siluanov, the measure should not be viewed as additional disposal of the companies' investment resource. "With budget being under substantial pressure due to sliding revenue basis amid current environment, this measure is absolutely reasonable," he said. "We assume that this year and probably next year as well, the assets with state-owned funds invested in them, will bring more yields to the budget," Siluanov said.

According to the estimates of Russia’s Finance Ministry, the measure may add up to 450 bln rubles ($6.9 bln) to the budget in 2016.

In April, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree raising the standard payment of 2015 dividends by state-owned companies to 50% of net profit. The move is aimed at increasing 2016 budget revenues. Initially the total amount of dividend payments was planned at 100 bln rubles ($1.5 bln).

"The companies will keep a strict watch on their profits’ spending and evaluation of investment projects," he added.

According to Siluanov, Russian government is not going to take new decisions on exaction of funds from oil and gas sector.

New Russian pension system to be launched in second half of 2017 - early 2018, he said. 

"We will work out all provisions in detail this year," he said, adding that "this will be in the second half of 2017 or the beginning of 2018."

According to Siluanov, the ministry sees no sense in extending capital amnesty. "We believe that there is no sense in extending (capital amnesty) indefinitely. Moreover that we have implemented the key proposals of the business community," Siluanov said. "Those who want to declare their profits and assets can do it calmly during the first half of this year."

During his annual state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly on December 3, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to extend amnesty of capitals until July 1, 2016 and simplify the process. Capital amnesty was designed to repatriate declared offshore capital, which will subsequently flow into the Russian financial market.

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