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Russian budget imbalance must be reduced to zero in 3 years — minister

June 16, 17:36 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG
The minister says investors and market participants need to have a clear idea of the measures that the state is going to assume
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Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, June 16. /TASS/. It is necessary to reduce to zero Russia’s budget imbalance and ensure its full adjustment to the new environment, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2016) on Thursday.

"As for operational targets the first thing is to adjust the budget to the new realities. The (Russian) economy has adjusted, business has adjusted, banks have also adjusted backed by the state aide. We’re facing a huge imbalance of revenues and (budget) expenditures. The key operational target is to reduce this imbalance to zero within three years," he said.

According to Siluanov, investors and market participants need to have a clear idea of the measures that the state is going to assume - to raise taxes or eliminate the budget imbalance and improve the tax system to stimulate the economic development. "This is the key thing and the issue of adjusting the budget to the new environment," he said.

The Reserve Fund

According to Siluanov, Russia’s Finance Ministry will not use the whole of the Reserve Fund and will keep a safety cushion.

"We’ll keep the Reserve Fund, won’t use the whole of it. That’s why we’ll be reducing the expenses of the Reserve Fund within the next three years keeping a safety cushion and gradually boosting the volume of domestic borrowings," Siluanov said, adding that the issue is not about borrowings in foreign exchange and it is only possible to finance the budget using domestic borrowings.

The Reserve Fund resources will depend on the situation on international market and delivery of privatization plans, he added.

"This will depend on the privatization progress and the situation with our export goods on international markets," the minister said.

In May, Russia’s Reserve Fund decreased by 11.8% to 2.5 trillion rubles ($38.9 bln) while the National Wealth Fund grew by 1.5% to 4.823 trillion rubles ($75.2 bln).

In the foreign currency equivalent the funds’ amounts decreased - the Reserve Fund decreased from $44.96 bln to $38.6 bln, the National Wealth Fund decreased from $73.86 bln to $72.99 bln.

Russia’s budget deficit

The minister said Russia’s budget deficit will be around 3% in 2016 depending on the situation.

Earlier President Putin set the task of staying within 3% budget deficit this year.

"We’re aiming at budget deficit of up to 3% of GDP at $40 per barrels oil price," Siluanov said, adding that the ministry "has prepared proposals on budget consolidation and will submit them in the autumn." "The budget deficit will be around 3% depending on the international economic environment," he added.

The current target for budget deficit stands at 3% of GDP though it may go up to 3.3%-3.4% of GDP.

Returns to investors

According to Siluanov, Russia is able to provide good returns to investors against still high risks.

Investors assess risks and opportunities when evaluation options for placement of funds, the minister said. "Opportunities in Russia are good. We see good earnings can be made in Russia and returns will be sound. What about risks? These are fairly high so far," Siluanov said.

Resources of the National Wealth Fund

According to Siluanov, the Finance Ministry may use resources of the National Wealth Fund (NWF) to cover Russia’s budget deficit in 2017.

"We will use resources of the NWF if required in the next year. If resources of the Reserve Fund are depleted, then the NWF is also a similar reserve fund. A portion of the NWF will be left to finance budget gaps," the minister said.

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