INTERVIEW: “The weekend’s protests were the Russian peoples’, not the opposition’s” – Maxim Reznik
Western Balkans citizens legally resident in EU equal to 14% of region’s population
International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has stripped Belarus of the right to hold the World Championship this year
Alexei Navalny arrested on arrival as he returns home
Russia's NorNickel adopts blockchain for supply chain management
Russia goes ahead with eSIM technology
Russia's retailer X5 Group posts 13% sales growth in 4Q20
National Bank of Ukraine retains a key policy rate at 6%, the outlook of the CPI deteriorates
Western Balkans and Ukraine urged to scrutinise coal subsidies
Oligarchs trying to derail Ukraine’s privatisation programme, warns the head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund
VISEGRAD BLOG: Central Europe's populists need a new strategy for Biden
LONG READ: The oligarch problem
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
EBRD says loan to Estonia’s controversial Porto Franco project was never disbursed
Czech MPs pass protectionist food law in violation of EU rules
M&A in Central and Eastern Europe fell 16% in value in 2020, says CMS report
Hungarian vehicle makers hit by supply chain shortage
COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
Polish industrial production continues boom in December
OUTLOOK 2021 Poland
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
Pandemic pushes public debt close to 80% of GDP in Albania and Montenegro
BALKAN BLOG: Superstition and resentment surround vaccination plans
Albania needs reforms for e-commerce to thrive, says World Bank
Bosnia's exports in 2020 amounted to BAM10.5bn, trade deficit to BAM6.3bn
Retailers and restaurant owners threaten protests in Bulgaria if reopening is delayed
Bulgaria's Biodit first company to IPO on new BEAM market
Bulgaria’s government considers gradual easing of COVID-related restrictions
Spring lockdown caused spike in online transactions in Croatia
ING: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Kosovo’s biggest opposition party risks being unable to run in general election
OUTLOOK 2021 Moldova
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Montenegro’s special prosecution probes finance minister over €750mn Eurobond issue
North Macedonia plans to cut personal income tax in IT sector to zero in 2023
Romania government to pursue “ambitious” timetable for justice reforms
Private finance mobilised by development banks up 9% to $175bn in 2019
OUTLOOK 2021 Romania
BALKAN BLOG: US approach to switch from quick-fix dealmaking to experience and cooperation
Slovenia’s economic sentiment indicator up 2.2 pp m/m in January
Slovenia lost €10bn by neglecting wood industry for decades
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovenia
Slovenia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against Jansa cabinet
D’S Damat franchise deals ‘show Turkey’s hard-pressed mall operators becoming their own tenants’
Turkey’s benchmark rate held as concerns over faltering recovery come to fore
Turkish lira breaches HSBC’s stop-loss, Turkey ETF signalling outflows
CAUCASUS BLOG : What can Biden offer the Caucasus and Stans, all but forgotten about by Trump?
Armenia ‘to extend life of its 1970s Metsamor nuclear power plant after 2026’
OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
OUTLOOK 2021 Azerbaijan
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
Iran’s President Khamenei menaces private citizen Trump
Iran’s technology minister indicted for failing to properly implement internet censorship
No US move to rejoin Iran nuclear deal imminent, say Biden national security nominees
TEHRAN BLOG: Will Biden bet on a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal?
Central Asia vaccination plans underwhelm, but governments look unruffled
Fears of authoritarianism as Kyrgyz populist wins landslide and backing for ‘Khanstitution’
Mongolia, island of democracy
OUTLOOK 2021 Mongolia
Mongolia's PM quits amid protests over treatment of mother with coronavirus and newborn baby
Mongolia's winter dzud set to be one of most extreme on record says Red Cross
OUTLOOK 2021 Tajikistan
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
Download the pdf version
The Russian Ministry of Finance announced on March 19 that it has transferred last year's budget surplus to the National Welfare Fund (NWF), which now amounts to about RUB12,200bn ($157.2bn), or 11% of GDP, reported Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT) in its weekly update.
The reserve fund can be used to cover a budget deficit in times of crisis, and held some RUB8tn ($123bn) at the start of March, or 7% of GDP.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said earlier this month that the current crisis would blow a RUB3tn hole in the budget that will be covered by withdrawals from the NWF. If nothing changes and Russia continues to run RUB3tn budget deficits because of persistent low oil prices then there is enough in the fund to last four years – and that is without cutting spending from the planned budget due to run to 2022 or raising taxes. Siluanov said earlier that the amount of money in reserves was enough to endure a decade of low oil prices.
The reason for the sudden jumps in the NWF recently is due to an accounting quirk. The fund is administered by the CBR which reports on its size; however, the Ministry of Finance is the one that collects the taxes and oil duties that feed the fund, which it holds in special accounts before formally transferring this cash to the fund periodically. Normally that money comes from surplus revenues earned from oil exports when the prices are over $42 per barrel, but this latest uptick was due to Ministry of Finance transferring the budget surplus left over from 2019 to the NWF war chest. (This so-called budget rule has been suspended until April, allowing the Ministry of Finance to spend surplus oil revenues rather than send them to the NWF.)
More money is being made available to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis as a planned sale of the CBR’s stake in retail banking giant Sberbank to the Ministry of Finance will mean the transfer of another dollop of money to the NWF. In February, the CBR and the Ministry of Finance agreed that the central bank would sell its stake (50% and one share) in Russia's largest bank to the Ministry of Finance, which increases the central bank's distribution of profits to the state.
In the meantime, the CBR has continued to build up the gross international reserves (GIR). As of Friday, March 13, Russia's foreign exchange reserves (including gold) reached $581bn, their highest level since August 2008. However, in the last week the CBR has begun to sell currency from its reserve to prevent rapid fluctuations in the foreign exchange market. But what selling is happening has been relatively small, of the order of $75mn a day, as the CBR remains prudent and would rather let the ruble’s value fall than burn through its reserves in an effort to maintain the currency’s value.
The CBR manages the liquid assets of the National Welfare Fund as part of its foreign exchange reserves. If the Treasury needs money from the fund, it will withdraw it from the central bank in rubles, so the size of the foreign exchange reserves will not change, according to BOFIT.
here to continue reading this article
and 5 more for free or purchase
12 months full website access including
the bne Magazine for just $250/year.
Register to read the bne monthly magazine for
Password could contain only
and have 8-20 symbols length.
Please complete your registration by confirming your
A confirmation email has been sent to the email
address you provided.
can't be empty.
No user with
this email address.
Access recovery request has expired, or you are using
the wrong recovery token. Please, try again.
Access recover request has expired.
Please, try again.
To continue viewing our content you need to complete
the registration process.
Please look for an email that was sent to
with the subject line
"Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have
instructions on how to complete registration
process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in
case this communication was misdirected in your
If you have any questions please contact us at email@example.com
Sorry, but you have used all your free articles fro
this month for bne IntelliNews. Subscribe
to continue reading for only $119 per year.
Your subscription includes:
For the meantime we are also offering a free
digital weekly newspaper to subscribers to
the online package.
Click here for more subscription options,
including to the print version of our
flagship monthly magazine:
Take a trial to our premium daily news
service aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging
For any other enquiries about our
products or corporate discounts please
contact us at
If you no longer wish to receive
Magazine annual print
Website & Archive
Combined package: web
access & magazine print
Take a trial to our premium daily news service
aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging Europe: