Country for a penny

Russia is waiting for a new privatization, senseless and merciless.
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Why do you think the government is up to a new round of privatization? Officialy, to collect 17 billion rubles within three years. Is it much or not? Depends on the point of view. It is known that 1826 objects are put up for sale: 477 joint-stock companies, 298 state unitary enterprises, shares in 10 companies with limited liability and in 1041 the object of state property. So, dividing the expected revenue by the number of sold assets, we find that the average revenue per object is only 9.2 million rubles. This is the price of not the most luxurious apartments in Moscow. Not too bad a bargain for Dmitry Medvedev, who signed the plan for this strange privatization?

The expert community is puzzled: are we crushed by the sanctions so that the budget cannot cope without the privatization? But if so, why the government does not speak openly about it, instead telling the people that we're in an amazing situation, the sanctions did nothing, and the economy is about to boom? Yes, and to whom the government intends to sell state assets? It is even known? Couldn't it happen so that the buyer will be some crank, for example, from Qatar, and in fact the property will go to someone else: say, the commodity giant from the US? The government says nothing, and for a good reason: there is nothing to answer, and the lie is probably not desirable. Just try to explain to the people why profitable Alrosa, Sovcomflot, Prioksky Nnferrous Metals Plant or Kristal Distillery must be sold! It remains to ask the economic experts for explanations: Well, why do we need all this privatization? What it will lead to and who in the end will get the cream?

Isn't it cheaper to increase the excise tax?

Potential beneficiaries have already already been briefly but succinctly described by the Russian president's adviser Sergey Glazyev: "profiteers and looters." These are the people who for a quarter century have been building up "crony capitalism" and now expect to hit the jackpot again, at the expense of the state, "sagging" of the sanctions. We'll return to the presidential adviser's thoughts later, and now let's use the calculator. So, this year the government expects to gain 5.8 billion rubles from the privatization. And the expenditure budget for 2017 is 16.2 trillion rubles. "Thus, the privatization revenues will be only 0.04% in relation to budget expenditure," the professor of international finance at MGIMO Valentin Katasonov is obviously puzzled with his own calculation.

"This effect is equivalent to the introduction or increase of any excise tax, say, alcohol or luxuries. The desired 5.8 billion rubles at the exchange rate is about $100 million. This is less than the annual income of many assets, included in the government's privatization program!"

It makes sense in this context, to remind about something. Last summer, the government surreptitiously, without roadshows and timely notification sold 10.9% shares of the world's largest diamond mining company Alrosa. The state share in the capital of the company thus reduced to one-third. As reported by Vedomosti, "state-owned stake in ALROSA was sold for 52.3 billion rubles in spite of the fact that the bid book was oversubscribed 2 times. And now let's compare: only in the first half of last year the profit of ALROSA amounted to 186.7 billion rubles. Is it really a good bargain? And how the national security will be affected by the fact that 12% of Russian Helicopters were transferred from Rostec not to the RDIF, but to a mysterious Arab fund?

"The authorities are ready to give up the goose that lays the golden eggs at virtually no cost," sums up Katasonov. But that, as it turns out, is just the beginning. Members of the Government assured the people, saying not to worry, because many transactions are not full privatization, the government will certainly retain a controlling stake of 50% plus one share (as we have seen in ALROSA, this is not always the case). Thus, as suggested by the expert, "at this stage of the privatization the state may lose control of many companies, it is gradually becoming a minority shareholder."

If the example of ALROSA is not enough, let's have a look at Sovcomflot. The annual profit of the company is 400 million dollars. So, the government is ready to reduce the state's share in Sovcomflot"from the current 100% to 25%! But Sovcomflot is the largest domestic shipping company, the main carrier of crude oil and liquefied natural gas. No one in the world has as many ice-class tankers, no one has more opportunities to export hydrocarbons from areas with difficult ice conditions. Well, what good it is to sell it, and that for a pittance?

Or let's take VTB Bank, second only to Sberbank. Part of it is already privatized, the state retains the share of 60.9%. And the government intends to reduce it to 25%, as in the case of Sovcomflot. But in the case with VTB, the government is hampered by the sanctions: it is now difficult to find foreign investors.

No plan = no quality of life?

It's tempting to make far-reaching conclusions: that everything is clear with this privatization. Someone intentionally conducts either sabotage, or greed. But do not jump to conclusions, perhaps it is not just someone's desire to grab a bigger prize. Here, for example, Sergey Glazyev: the economist is sure that the root of evil lies in the fact that the government fails to comply with the law on strategic planning, adopted at the request of President Vladimir Putin. Not completely ignores it, but postponed its implementation for three years. And there is no strategic planning and there is no understanding of what and how to sell to reap maximum benefits. By the way, the experts have been working on the law on strategic planning for about two decades. And now Glazyev warns: "Either our recommendations will be implemented by the Government, or the evolution of our economy will follow the control pulses from China, Europe and the United States. But at the periphery between the western and eastern centers, we will not be able not only to preserve the sovereignty, but also to provide an acceptable quality of life. " And economist Mikhail Delyagin goes further, prophesying that "a new wave of privatization can push our country into a terrible confusion."

Not long ago, the State Duma deputy from United Russia and the Communist Party tried to clarify for themselves what was the hidden meaning of the new privatization. They asked the government. And they heard something like this: it turns out, the Federal Antimonopoly Service is to be blamed. Everything was set in motion because of the FAS. Last fall, its head Igor Artemyev announced that the state suppressed the business. Allegedly, in 2005 the public sector "forged" about 35% of GDP, and after 10 years, the proportion rose as much as 70%. Disorder! Shaking the foundations of the market economy! The rhetorics of the FAS gave a signal to the government to act. Now Artemyev's department is responsible. And the government, it appears, is innocent.

Maxim Osadchy, head of analytical department of the Bank's Corporate Finance (BCF):

"I probably should support the government on that issue, based on the fact that the massive sale of state property may smooth out problems with the budget. But I will say in another way: it's hardly worth it to plug the holes in the budget at all costs. The Government should increase the national debt, not to sell state property for next to nothing. This should have been done after the West lifted sanctions. In economics, there is a section, the theory of contracts. So, based on this theory, the state is not an effective owner. Privatisation of manufacturing enterprises owned by the state is a way to increase economic efficiency. But this does not mean that the privatization should be turned into a waste of state property. After all, state-owned assets may go to a much less effective owners than the state. And the new owners will simply gut the cheap property. We have already seen it in the 90s, during the so-called "voucher privatization". The response was rejection of privatization in the public consciousness. In general, to plug holes at all costs is not an option. There's no emergency situation. The crisis is over, sanctions, I think, will be soon withdrawn. Our assets rise. It is necessary to be patient."

Do we need nationalization?

Economists, however, believe that Artemyev distors the facts. What kind of "a state attack" can there be the share of the public sector does not exceed 2.3% in the overall structure of the economy (another 4.5% are municipal enterprises). On one side of the scale are 6.8% of the companies and organizations, and on the other - the remaining 93.2%. Somehow, you know, it is doubtful that the head of the FAS can count.

"One could argue that, say, the calculation of the proportion of the public sector on the basis of total assets is incorrect," explains Katasonov. "For the reason that public organizations can be clearly larger than private ones. Let us estimate the share of the public sector with the help of the "fixed assets" indicator. Before Chubais's privatization, the public sector, according to Rosstat, had about 90% of fixed assets of the Russian economy. After the gangster privatization of the 90s, this figure dropped to 25%. And today it is only 18%. " Note that these 18% of the public sector create a good half of Russia's GDP. In general, Artemyev calculations do not stand up to scrutiny, because it turns out that this is not the state controls 70% of the country's assets, but private owners have 80% of the assets! It is time to raise the question of the effectiveness of the private sector, in principle, (Glazyev, Delyagin and Katasonov believe that it is ineffective as a whole). So, perhaps, Russia needs not a privatization, but on the contrary, the nationalization?

This idea seems to be in the air. That's Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin in an interview with Financial Times stated that privatization is not a panacea, and to revive the Russian economy need not privatization, and healthy competition. "If we just privatize the large state-owned companies, the competitive situation will not improve," - stated the Minister. Reasonable question: where was Oreshkin, when the government claimed the privatization program for 2017-2019 years? Maybe ill?

"Before the cabinet meeting said the minister is very right thing - is perplexed president of the Union of Entrepreneurs and tenants of Russia Andrei Bunich. - But it took only two weeks, and it turned out that the government is still preparing the sale of companies that "dominate certain sectors". Although, according to Oreshkin, such sales do not affect the overall growth of the economy and even impair competition. When the authorities make private natural monopolies, they almost always change their economic activities in the direction contrary to the public interest. As a result, the secondary negative effects on the economy differ as circles on the water. "

It makes more sense to wait for the lifting of sanctions?

However, Oreshkin, the government is not the only opponent of privatization. Here and Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets recently proposed instead the sale of state property to resort to a more efficient way to boost the coffers - to give up a single 13 per cent rate of income tax and go to a progressive scale. And what is even in the spirit of the proposals and Katasonova Glazyev, on which the estimates so you can easily double the revenue part of the budget. "I can explain the current privatization only in the presence of intent - sums up Andrew Bunich. - It is beneficial to someone. What could be more profitable to sell the best pieces of state property? The path that has chosen an economic bloc of the government - a dead-end, and the tenacity with which the government is acting, is puzzling. "

Meanwhile, it turns out an amazing thing: it turns out, the state enterprise can be much more profitable than private. And it is not in motivation or productivity. The point credits. The banking sector is much more willing to lend to state-owned enterprises, rather than private. The reason is clear: if you burned private trader, then the loan will hang. Burned state - still give credit at the expense of the state budget. That's why the state-owned enterprises to lend at a very low percentage (about 2%), and private owners - by 8-10%. And it turns out - explain economists - that as soon as the company moves from state to private ownership, the yield falls. Thus, from the enterprise management point of view, privatization brings losses, because in the case of privatization of the company has to spend more on servicing loans. And the remnants of profit suck shareholders. What kind of development is possible to produce in this case we talk about?

But if the distance from the economic philosophizing and just look around? Clearly the same: the crisis in the yard, sanctions. Russian asset value falls. Foreigners and wants and prickly: as well as their involvement in the sale of state property of the Russian partners will condemn? So, maybe we should hold off on privatization - if not to the implementation of the presidential law on strategic planning, at least to a partial lifting of sanctions?

Yuri Boldyrev economist, former deputy chairman of the Accounting Chamber:

- I think the "new wave" of privatization are much more harmful than the privatization of Chubais. More to say: this is sabotage against the people and the state. Sell ​​strategic assets, such as "Sovcomflot", and even at the peak of lower prices - a crime. One could understand the government's actions, if the property was transferred to our strategic ally (remember, Russia intended to buy a package "Bashneft" shares - are not given). But we do not know who will be the owner, we do not say. People, it turns out, as it were, and nothing to do - everything is decided by the government.

That way, the people - it is fair to be privatized so that the property was sold for some system of granting them Russian citizens. And without the right to resale, as at the time voucher. That's when the privatization would be a mechanism of redistribution of income in favor of the population. That would be fair. However, I understand the government's motives. Only privatization will allow him, without doing anything and without changing anything, not turning the country towards development, another half a year or a year to prolong the illusion of prosperity. Illusion! And for a very short time! Neither of which economic development is not necessary to speak - obviously the same as the government, and even have wanted, it is not able to do it. Although what I do? To find out why saboteurs poisoned the well, not beautify it, it makes no sense. It's their job.