In December, the Ministry of Finance fully spent the Reserve Fund to cover the federal budget deficit, the ministry said on its website. The reserves of the Reserve Fund - $ 7.62 billion, € 6.71 billion and £ 1.10 billion - were realized in the Central Bank for 1 trillion rubles. and credited to a single account of the federal budget. As a result, "zero balances" were formed on the accounts of the Reserve Fund and on February 1, 2018, as it was planned last year, it will cease to exist, the Finance Ministry said.
The reserve fund was reset on December 22, when the last 54 billion rubles were spent on financing the budget deficit, Treasury statistics show. In January-November 2017, the Reserve Fund remained intact. The budget deficit in 2017, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Finance, was about 1.6% of GDP (1.5 trillion rubles).
The Ministry of Finance has repeatedly warned about the exhaustion of the Reserve Fund by the end of 2017. As early as the beginning of 2016, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov explained that, while maintaining the use of the fund, it will be exhausted by 2017. After that, the budget deficit will have to be covered at the expense of the National Welfare Fund (NWF), the Finance Ministry explained.
The Reserve Fund reached its maximum in ruble terms in early 2015 - 5.86 trillion rubles, and the maximum in relation to the size of the economy - in early 2009: 12.5% of GDP. For 2016, the volume of the Reserve Fund decreased by 3.7 times - from 3.64 trillion rubles. to less than 1 trillion.
One fund instead of two
In total in 2017, the government spent more than 1.6 trillion rubles from sovereign funds, Siluanov said at the end of December. In addition to 1 trillion rubles. from the Reserve Fund, the government spent 655 billion rubles. of the NWF, of which 616.7 billion were spent to cover the budget deficit of the Pension Fund.
The Ministry of Finance proposed in June 2017 that two sovereign funds be consolidated into one. Siluanov explained that the liquid part of the NWF and the Reserve Fund are virtually the same source of financing the budget expenditures. The co-existence of the two foundations was considered inexpedient and ex-Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin. "We need a reserve, it should be in liquid form. Today, the entire design is sharpened, all free funds should be highly liquid, quickly released in case of crisis, "- explained Kudrin.
Now Russia has one sovereign fund, but it will start replenishing again this year. In 2017, the Ministry of Finance has already received additional oil and gas revenues amounting to approximately 829 billion rubles. - they bought foreign currency, which before October 1, 2018 will be transferred to the NWF. Within the framework of a regular budget rule, the entire volume of oil and gas super-profits will be channeled to the NWF.
The Reserve Fund and the National Welfare Fund were established in 2008 as a result of the separation of the Stabilization Fund. The first was a source of financing the budget deficit in the event of a sharp drop in the revenues of the treasury. The second was created as a part of the mechanism of pension provision for citizens for a long term, although in essence this function did not work. For example, in 2008-2009, part of the SWF was spent on anti-crisis assistance to banks (as a result, the fund now owns preferred shares of VTB, Gazprombank and Rosselkhozbank for 279 billion rubles.). Another part of the funds was decided to invest in long-term self-supporting infrastructure projects, such as the modernization of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Mainline or the construction of a nuclear power plant in Finland.
As of January 1, 2018, the volume of SWF in the ruble equivalent is 3.75 trillion rubles. But, as follows from RBC's calculations based on the data of the Treasury, only 59% of this amount (2.2 trillion rubles) - free resources that can be at any time taken from the accounts of the Central Bank and used to finance the budget deficit or deficit of the Pension of the fund.
The rest was invested in financial assets - deposits in Vnesheconombank (222.5 billion rubles plus $ 6.25 billion), preferred shares of VTB, Rosselkhozbank and Gazprombank (279 billion rubles), securities associated with the implementation of infrastructure projects (117 billion rubles. , which are placed in preferred shares of RZhD and the Atomic Energy Corporation, Yamal LNG, Zapsibneftekhim bonds, etc.), deposits in VTB and Gazprombank for the financing of infrastructure projects (164 billion rubles). Another $ 3 billion from the NWF were invested in late 2013 in the purchase of Eurobonds of Ukraine, for which it refused to pay after the change of power in the country.
Liquid FNB funds held on foreign currency accounts with the Central Bank can be placed in high-security bonds of foreign countries, for example, American government securities.
During 2018, the Ministry of Finance plans to purchase currency for the NWF by about 2 trillion rubles. additional oil and gas revenues with oil prices $ 54-55 per barrel, Siluanov estimated (these amounts, respectively, will be transferred to the NWF already in 2019). At $ 60 the volume of purchases of currency will be 2.8 trillion rubles.
In the new year, the funds of the NWF will become the main source of coverage for the federal budget deficit along with borrowing - 586 billion rubles will be used from the NWF. But in the next two years, when the NWF will almost no longer be spent, but only replenished, borrowing will be the main source of deficit coverage. The budget deficit will be set at 1% of GDP.