- Economy minister puts plan's funding gap at 189 billion rubles
- Government discussing measures to boost economy amid recession
Russia’s government, which has spent a month discussing a plan to revive its recession-hit economy, has yet to find sources of financing for more than a fifth of its 880 billion-ruble ($12 billion) package to combat the crisis.
The funding gap for the plan, which includes support for the economy in 2016 and structural measures to ensure stable growth, stands at 189 billion rubles, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said in Moscow after at a government meeting on Thursday. About 440 billion rubles are already allocated in the current budget, with the government’s anti-crisis fund a source for another 185 billion rubles, he said. A further 39.8 billion rubles will be used from the National Wellbeing Fund, according to Ulyukayev.
Struggling with its longest recession in two decades, the world’s biggest energy exporter also has to contend with international sanctions over Ukraine that limit its access to capital markets abroad. That’s straining public finances after the government ran a deficit of almost 3 percent of gross domestic product in 2015, the widest in five years.
“First of all we’ll send money for measures to support those industries that already received approval, plus we have public obligations, which we can’t leave unfulfilled,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters after the meeting. “We’ll take very careful decisions on financing the proposed measures in order to not push the financial situation out of balance.”
The initiatives assign 310 billion rubles in federal budget loans to regional governments and 140 billion rubles to help the car industry. The plan also includes measures that range from support for non-commodities exports to aid for small and medium-sized businesses, according to Ulyukayev.
The Finance Ministry is keeping its target of holding this year’s budget deficit to no more than 3 percent at an average oil price of $40 a barrel, Siluanov said. While Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave the cabinet another week to finalize the plan, Ulyukayev asked to extend the discussion until the end of the month.