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Oct 15, 2021
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NWF money box will be frozen so as not to give money to the people

NWF money box will be frozen so as not to give money to the people

Photo: Sergey Fadeichev / TASS photo host agency

In connection with the risks of energy transition, the Ministry of Finance proposes to bring the minimum amount of liquid reserve assets of the National Welfare Fund to the level of 10% of GDP. This was stated by the Minister of Finance Anton Siluanovspeaking at the Federation Council on video conferencing.

“The world consumption of hydrocarbons will gradually decrease, and the question of the stability of the federal budget revenue base may already arise by the beginning of the 1930s, and we need to prepare for this,” he said.

According to the head of the Ministry of Finance, this will help ensure long-term fiscal and macroeconomic stability. He also noted that this instruction was given by the President Vladimir Putin, therefore, corresponding legislative proposals will be made.

“Thus, today’s favorable situation must be wisely used, on the one hand, without prejudice to the stability of the entire budget structure, and on the other hand, it is necessary to reinforce our investment impulse so that together with private money the funds of the National Wealth Fund play on the positive of our economy. “, – added the minister.

Independent economic expert Leonid Khazanov believes that the idea of ​​the Minister of Finance of Russia Anton Siluanov to raise the bar for accumulating funds in the NWF from the current 7% to 10% is not without common sense.

– This increases the size of financial resources that can be spent during crisis situations. At the same time, according to my estimates, the Russian industry does not have enough cash and, most importantly, cheap money that can give it a boost. That is why it is slipping today.

Undoubtedly, Russia has created a whole set of mechanisms aimed at stimulating the growth of the industry, for example, the Industrial Development Fund, which provides loans to enterprises at low interest rates. However, its possibilities are far from endless, and in order to whip up the Russian industry it is necessary to provide it with money from other sources for the implementation of promising projects in it. It would not hurt to do the same for construction, we still have a lot of people in emergency housing. This should be done today, using the income of the NWF (within reasonable limits, of course).

“SP”: – Why do officials not change their position, think in established stereotypes, do not try to look at the future? Instead, they scare us with almost catastrophes.

– Because all officials are real people, and each of them has his own ideas about the purposes of using the NWF. Here the point is different: just the 1998 crisis, which almost put Russia on the brink of an economic catastrophe, led to the formation of an opinion about the need to accumulate money in the NWF without any redistribution of it into the real sector.

In reality, so that the funds of the NWF do not simply accumulate, they can be used to finance various investment projects that can move the economy of our country. For example, set the size of its resources that we can spend on them and provide them at low interest rates for a long time. The options here can be very different – the laying of the Northern latitudinal railway and the high-speed highway “Moscow – Kazan”, and the construction of new machine-building and electronic plants. Naturally, the money should not be “scattered from the plane”, it is necessary to maintain strict control over their spending on specific projects and their return after they reach self-sufficiency.

Valery Mironov, Deputy Director of the Institute “Development Center”, National Research University Higher School of Economics noted that in the mid-term forecast, the government expects to reach an acceleration in GDP growth – by 3 percent or more.

– Before the crisis, we had an inertial growth of 2%. The task has been set to reach 3% in order to approach the world growth rates. The government believes that the main acceleration factor should be an investment push from the state and is trying to accelerate the economy through public investment, that is, the construction of ports, roads, pipelines etc. for state check.

This push is impracticable unless supported by increased private sector investment. But in our country, the main factor of economic growth is uncertainty, lack of demand, which greatly limits investment. Moreover, capacity utilization last year, according to the survey, fell by 5-10% in various production sectors. And it so happened in our country that investments grow well when capacity utilization is high. Uncertainty makes investment planning difficult. It would be wise to postpone the push for a couple of years.

“SP”: – Our budget for this year was set up as a surplus, gas prices are incredible, so we have money. Why is it proposed to save them, and not direct them to the development of the economy, social projects?

– It would be possible to send money not to “dinosaur projects”, but it would be better now to invest money in win-win investments, which, no matter how uncertainty is resolved, would be profitable. These are, for example, healthcare, education, antitrust regulation, the creation of the infrastructure of the digital economy. To do this, there is no need to increase spending from the NWF; the volumes that can be made within the framework of the economic regime are sufficient.

It can really be an upsurge, a fight against poverty. In a rich country (with natural resources and now with money), we have a lot of poor people. It would be possible not to distribute 10-15 thousand to everyone, as they did this and last year, but to the poorest 40-50 thousand and regularly, but so that they could only spend it on food, domestic products.

The poor have a high propensity to consume – they do not accumulate money, but put it into circulation. This will reduce the factor of low domestic demand, which is limiting growth. In addition, they have a low propensity to consume imported goods, they, unlike the rich, send money to buy iPhones, travel abroad and other imported products. This is beneficial to Russian producers and would support growth better than infrastructure investment projects, which it is not yet known whether they will receive support from the private sector.

Many people, according to surveys, do not have enough to pay 10 thousand, and this is millions of people in Russia. They need to be supported. It would not be eating away, populism, as they would spend it on buying domestic goods. It would go into production and spin the flywheel of growth.

“SP”: – Why do officials stand their ground?

– Because the power of lobbying construction corporations is very strong. After all, we have a relative investment rise in 2012-2018. was associated with the Olympics, the world championship. Huge building capacities were created. This complex requires new orders. It is good that we have such a complex, but we need to act on the basis of the profitability of investment projects, and a calculation that would be subject to public examination. We need to take a break for a year or two to check the infrastructure projects laid down by the state on the basis of this expertise. And weigh it again.

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