The head of the Accounts Chamber, Alexei Kudrin, admitted that the Russian economy coped with the pandemic crisis better than expected, but the growth rates projected by the Ministry of Economic Development for 2022-2023 look too optimistic. He wrote about this in a column published in RBC.
The basic forecast of the Ministry of Economy for 2021, 2022 and 2023 includes real GDP growth of 3.3, 3.4 and 3%, respectively. “If the rebound effect works in 2021, then in 2022-2023 we do not see any grounds for such a forecast, such growth rates still need to be earned,” Kudrin notes. According to him, 2021 will be a post-crisis year, which will be expressed in low incomes and high anti-crisis expenses.
Budget revenues are expected to reach about RUB 18.8 trillion in 2021. - by 0.9 trillion rubles. more than in the crisis year of 2020, but less than in 2018-2019. Expenditures next year will amount to 21.5 trillion rubles. after 22.7-23.7 trillion rubles. in 2020 depending on the use of the previous year's balances. Note that the Accounts Chamber has repeatedly stated about the unevenness of budget execution, seeing this, among other things, as the reason for the reduction in government deposits.
Thus, according to Kudrin, revenues have fallen, and expenses must be maintained at the proper level in order not to fall even more. To avoid a sharp reduction in expenditures in 2021 compared to the current year, the Ministry of Finance made a change to the budget rule, allowing RUB 875 billion. increase costs through borrowing. Kudrin calls this a "force majeure" clause, which is quite appropriate, but should only be in effect in 2021. "In 2022, we must return to compliance with the budget rule in full, without reservations," he stressed.
Kudrin also notes that the National Welfare Fund, which has become the government's main "money-box", is spent very conservatively, in strict accordance with the budgetary rule. Its foreign exchange reserves are about $ 120 billion, the Ministry of Finance only in August spent on the market all the currency it acquired at the beginning of the year, before the collapse of oil prices. By the end of the year, the net use of NWF funds will be only about 350 billion rubles. At the same time, he acknowledges that the government could spend more money on supporting the population by expanding programs to support the poor and business.
As for the Russian national debt, which is expected to grow to 21% of GDP within three years from 12.3% in 2019, this is not critical for the Russian economy. "This is a normal level of public debt, which for many years, after paying off debts in" zero ", was at a historically low level and was the object of envy of the governments of other countries. For this, we reduced the national debt in the" fat years "so that in a crisis moment it the low level was another reserve, "Kudrin wrote.