22 Sep 2021 13:30

Gazprom megaproject could get 900 bln rubles from NWF outside quota of 1.6 trln rubles for three years

MOSCOW. Sept 22 (Interfax) - The huge project of Gazprom and RusGazDobycha to build a complex near Ust-Luga to process ethane-bearing gas at an estimated cost of 3 trillion rubles could become the biggest recipient of financing from Russia's National Welfare Fund (NWF), as there are plans to allocate almost 1 trillion rubles for it beyond the overall limit of 1.6 trillion for three years.

NWF financing for the project has been discussed for years. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said earlier that, since in this case the NWF money would be used to acquire foreign equipment and this spending would therefore not affect the ruble's exchange rate or monetary policy, it could be allocated outside of the overall limit on NWF investment.

Investment from the NWF will total "1.6 trillion rubles over four years, essentially three [as the cap is technically for 2021-2024 but the money will actually be spent in 2022-2024]. Plus Ust-Luga - about 900 billion rubles [over three years]," Siluanov told reporters.

"Why plus? Because this money will go toward the purchase of imported equipment and will not influence monetary policy in Russia. The government is now looking for sources of growth and it seems to me that the NWF, as a resource that also pulls along private investment, is not a bad instrument. The main thing is that this does not influence inflation, so that Central Bank rates do not increase," Siluanov said.

Other projects that might get NWF financing beyond the overall limit are not on the table yet, he said.

The NWF will total 13.9 trillion rubles at the end of 2021, 16.48 trillion rubles at the end of 2022, 20.1 trillion at the end of 2023 and 23.27 trillion rubles at the end of 2024 (before investment in projects), a memo attached to the draft budget for the next three years said.