It is unlikely that Russia, like the United States, can spend 10% of GDP, but given the unique scale of the crisis, sending 3-4% is “quite capable,” said the head of the Economic Expert Group Yevsey Gurvich. According to the Institute for Growth Economics, measures are needed worth from 7 to 9.5% of GDP, or 7.7-10 trillion rubles, said RBC director of the institute Anastasia Alekhnovich. But without revising the budget rule, the incentive program could amount to about 2.4% of GDP, according to the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting (CIAM).
It is necessary to go beyond the usual notions of possible sources of financing, economists say. “In such an extraordinary situation, the issue of OFZs that the Central Bank would support – repos or direct buybacks – may possibly take place,” Vyugin suggested.
The anti-crisis measures of the government consist mainly of new expenses: a deferment of taxes, credit and rent payments, a reduction in insurance premiums from 30 to 15% for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), state loan guarantees for companies, and an expansion of the bank refinancing program for loans SMEs.
How the budget will be affected by a collapse in oil prices
The recession of the global economy due to coronavirus will be an order of magnitude greater than during the crisis of 2009, Gurvich is pessimistic: “It is proposed to call the current crisis“ the mother of all recessions, ”because it will be stronger than the previous ones.” Due to reduced external demand, Russia will be forced to reduce exports. In addition, traditionally, as in any crisis, there will be an outflow of capital from emerging markets to developed economies with strong financial systems, the economist added.
For Russia, the negative consequences of the pandemic are exacerbated by falling oil prices below $ 30 per barrel: oil and gas revenues account for more than 40% of the federal budget. “The trouble came – open the gates, and because of the oil needle the gates of Russia were very wide open,” stated Igor Nikolaev, director of the Institute for Strategic Analysis of FBK Grant Thornton.
At the same time, as Gurvich emphasized, in recent years Russia has succeeded in avoiding raw material dependence. Oil Shock partially offset the floating rate and the budget rule, in which all revenues from oil sales are more expensive than the cut-off price of $ 40 per barrel (indexed annually by 2% from 2017 and now stands at $ 42.4) accumulate in the National Welfare Fund (NWF). In March, the volume of the National Welfare Fund increased 1.6 times, reaching 12.85 trillion rubles by April 1, which is equivalent to $ 165.384 million (11.3% of GDP), the Ministry of Finance reported. The volume of liquid assets (funds in bank accounts with the Bank of Russia) is slightly less – a little more than 11 trillion rubles, or $ 142.736 million (9.8% of GDP).
NWF funds are not as many as it seems, experts warned. Due to the fall in oil prices, Russia loses the planned oil and gas revenues. The federal budget in 2020 will lose almost 3 trillion rubles. oil and gas revenues at current oil prices, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov reported. Lost revenues of the entire budget system will amount to 7 trillion rubles, of which 70% will go to the federal budget, the head of the fiscal policy department, Alexander Suslin, told RBC the assessment of the Economic Expert Group.
Russia will lose about 3% of GDP in two years of recession, previously estimated TsMAKP. According to the optimistic scenario, the decline will be 2.3–2.5% in 2020 and 0.5–0.8% in 2021. The largest decline in the Russian economy was in 1992 – by 14.5%; in the crisis of 2009 it amounted to 7.8%.
How to support the population
The social consequences of the crisis will be the most significant, economists agree, and in order to accelerate the way out of it, it is necessary to maintain employment and solvent demand of the population. It would be wrong to give out “money from a helicopter”, but tens of millions of people already need support, Nikolaev emphasizes.
According to a presidential decree on unearned days introduced in Russia from late March to April 30, employees who are forced to stop working must still be paid wages. For those affected by coronavirus who have lost more than 30% of their income, a “credit vacation” has been introduced – the right to restructure loans. From mid-March, the state pays sick leave to employees who could not go to work because of the need to be in quarantine.
Speaking about the main risks of the current crisis, President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit stated that this is primarily unemployment: its peak “will exceed the level of 2009 under any scenario.” It is the dynamics of unemployment that will reflect the effectiveness of anti-crisis measures, the head of state specified.
In Russia, the maximum unemployment benefit for 2020 has been increased to 12,130 rubles, the minimum will be 1,500 rubles. After the announcement of the first non-working week due to the coronavirus and the introduction of a self-isolation regime, the authorities in Moscow and the Moscow Region increased the amount of benefits to 19.5 thousand rubles. in the capital and up to 15 thousand rubles. in the area of. But according to the CSR survey, almost 30% of companies have already forced employees to go on unpaid leave.
More than 60% of Russians do not have savings, but those who still have enough will have enough money in case of a sudden loss of monthly income for six months at the earliest, a survey showed earlier by order of IC Rosgosstrakh Life and Otkritie Bank. Due to the crisis, the real incomes of Russians in 2020 may be reduced by more than 5%, analysts at ACRA and economists at Alfa Bank estimated.
How business appreciated the support of the authorities
The four largest Russian business associations have asked the government to urgently introduce additional measures. They considered the list of nine most affected sectors compiled by the government insufficient and asked to support all sectors of the economy and provide subsidies for the payment of salaries. Only food manufacturers, food trade, and partly agriculture and pharmaceutical production will remain in the black, said Alekhnovich from the Institute for Growth Economics.
“According to our estimates, up to 90% of enterprises in the affected sectors will show losses in the first, second and, most likely, third quarter of 2020,” the expert says. Transferring taxes for six months is irrelevant, as enterprises with losses will not pay anything to the budget, she said.
The business received a deferment, including for basic taxes (except for VAT and personal income tax) and for 2019, which was not unprofitable, the head of the “Support of Russia” Alexander Kalinin commented to RBC. This is just a transfer, not a delay, and enterprises will not have to make additional efforts – to provide bank guarantees and so on, “but to deal with more important issues – to spin, optimize activities,” he says.
The transfer of taxes will mitigate the negative effects of quarantine for businesses, said Mikhail Orlov, KPMG partner. In his opinion, it is additionally necessary to increase the deadlines for paying advance payments on income tax and allow companies to switch to paying advance payments based on actual profits, rather than estimated for the previous period; refuse taxation of unrealized exchange rate differences so as not to force paying income tax “from the air”, and expand the possibilities of applying the declarative procedure for VAT refunds.
Most micro and small enterprises in the affected sectors rent vehicles and real estate, so a delay in the transport tax, property tax and land will not have a strong effect, notes Alekhnovich. Companies are more interested in reducing the burden of basic taxes, Levon Hayrapetyan, head of the tax policy department of the Central Development Council, told RBC: “Business will have to put aside how to cope with the double tax burden after the deferral.”
In its current form, the transfer of tax payments will not cost the budget at all: tax liabilities will be redistributed within the fiscal year and there will be no lost income, explained Alexander Deryugin, senior researcher at the Laboratory for Budget Policy Studies, RANEPA.
The government cannot “wave a saber” and write off all taxes, otherwise it will be necessary to allocate additional transfers from the federal budget in order to compensate the regions with lost revenues, Kalinin explained. So far, the government has made a “fairly swift radical decision,” and when the scale of the crisis will be understood in six months, “taxes can be written off,” the head of Russia’s Support did not rule out.