Government vs. Belousov
First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov will take part in the meeting of presidential aide Andrei Belousov with business representatives, Siluanov's spokesman Andrei Lavrov said. This meeting will be held in the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) on Friday, August 24. It invited leaders of 14 metallurgical, mining and chemical companies, in which Belousov in late July offered to withdraw 513.7 billion rubles. super profits.
The companies at the meeting will be represented by the leaders (ALROSA president Sergey Ivanov, MMK general director Pavel Shilyaev, Severstal general director Alexander Shevelev) and co-owners - Alexander Frolov (Evraz) and Vladimir Lisin (NLMK). About this RBC told four sources close to the participants in the meeting. Initially Siluanov's participation was not planned, one of them added.
A week ago it became known that Belousov in a letter to Vladimir Putin proposed to withdraw more than 500 billion rubles. surplus revenues from metallurgists, fertilizer producers and Sibur for the implementation of its May decrees. The president approved the elaboration of this idea in the government. And then Belousov decided to meet with businessmen himself.
"During the meeting, the issue of developing incentives and creating comfortable conditions will be discussed, so that the additional profit received by a number of enterprises as a result of the ruble depreciation remains in the Russian economy, was aimed at investment and development, creating new jobs," Andrei said. Lavrov.
The excess profits received by the company as a result of the weakening of the ruble does not depend on the internal profitability of the business and is inherently random, RBC explained a source close to the Finance Ministry. According to him, Siluanov, as the first deputy prime minister, and the Finance Ministry "would be glad if the big business voluntarily, without any directives, agreed to leave this profit in the Russian economy, invest it, and not, for example, export it to offshore." "At this meeting, we want to talk with the business about what we need to do, what conditions to create, so that the business wants to invest this additional profit and thereby help fulfill the plan to increase investment in GDP," the source said. This may be additional investment programs of companies, social expenses, etc.
On August 17, the Ministry of Finance was to send a report to the government taking into account the positions of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Energy, which opposed the initiative of Belousov. According to the source of RBC, who is familiar with the content of this report, the idea of an assistant to the president is described there as "harmful, which calls into question the socio-economic development of the country." In addition, the report notes the importance of investment programs of companies for the life of single-industry towns. The Finance Ministry believes that the proposed measure "will negatively affect the investment climate, undermine the principle of stability and predictability of fiscal conditions," a source familiar with the position of the Ministry of Finance told RBC.
Among the proposals on how to withdraw funds, the main ones in Belousov's apparatus were called an increase in the mineral extraction tax (MET) and the introduction of export duties, RBC reported two sources in companies from the presidential assistant list. RBC sent a request to his representative.
The idea to increase the severance tax was criticized by the Ministry of Natural Resources in a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance on August 16, RBC told a source in this ministry. According to him, the Ministry of Natural Resources warned of the significant obligations imposed on most of the companies on the list of Belousov - on geological exploration and revaluation of reserves. The authors recalled that the costs in the industry increased significantly against the backdrop of import substitution in conditions of sanctions, as well as due to the growing requirements for environmental safety and the prospects for introducing a new environmental tax, the ministry said. With this in mind, the Ministry of Natural Resources proposed to discuss separately with each company the volume of seizures when considering its investment program.
Now the size of the mineral extraction tax paid by metallurgical and mining companies is directly dependent on the prices of extracted raw materials, said Maxim Khudalov, director of the corporate ratings group of ACRA. The increase of this tax, he said, will kill all the advantages of the industry as one of the most low-profitable in the world, he explained. According to Khudalov, in 2017 metallurgists and mining companies paid about 70 billion rubles. Mineral extraction tax in the budget.
Belousov himself explained earlier that for oil companies there is a mechanism for withdrawing income using export tax and MET formulas, for other remaining companies only profit tax is provided. "It [the mechanism] should be linked to three factors: a weakening of the ruble, a change in the conjuncture (both growth and a decline in product prices), and necessarily investments by companies in their own production, including the best available technologies that allow to increase the environmental friendliness of production, - said the official. He added that this is not a question of withdrawing 500 billion rubles, but only of developing a mechanism for such withdrawal.
Economists interviewed by RBC, in general, supported the idea of the Ministry of Finance to convince the business to invest more in the economy. But for this, the government should have a clear economic program, they noted. "In addition to sanctions and objective reasons that limit investment, the main thing - business does not see the government's economic program. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development must submit their vision of economic policy to the business for the medium term, "said Alexander Abramov, professor at the Faculty of Economic Sciences at the Higher School of Economics.
The companies expect not only clarity in the approaches to drawing up the "Belousov list" (probably it's just a set of high-margin companies without in-depth analysis), but also transparent information about the government's long-term policy to stimulate effective companies, RBC confirmed in one of 14 companies. "Once in this list, we would like to understand whether the state operates with the efficiency metric, whether in the future it will include the effect of efficiency on super profits, how effective companies will be stimulated," he explained.
According to Abramov, Belousov's proposal "is untimely and creates unnecessary tension among entrepreneurs." The practice of taxation after the fact will cause a further deterioration of the business climate, added the leading research officer of the Center for Development of the Higher School of Economics, Andrei Chernyavsky.
Free funds and equivalent financial assets of Russian companies reach $ 500-600 billion, Abramov pointed out. "Money is not invested, but lie in banks with dead weight. Of course, they must work for the economy, "he concluded.
The companies that appeared on the list of Andrei Belousov sharply opposed his initiative. The main owner of NLMK Vladimir Lisin on August 9 said that this proposal "looks like a promotion of inefficiency: the lower the profitability, the less taxes you will have to pay." And the owner of Severstal Alexei Mordashov on August 15 asked the Minister of Industry Denis Manturov to refrain from withdrawing the super profits, otherwise "there will be no need to speak about any growth in ferrous metallurgy, and indeed in our economy". The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs this week wrote a letter to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and heads of relevant ministries, in which he pointed out that the initiative of Belousov does not contribute to increasing competitiveness and will negatively affect the investment attractiveness of the country.
Even UC Rusal, formally not included in the list of Belousov, who was formally not included in the list, sent a presentation to the Ministry of Industry and Trade with losses estimates due to a decrease in Norilsk Nickel's dividends (UC Rusal 27.8%) if the plan was implemented.