Russian budget deficit in 2023 might be "a little" off-plan, in one direction or the other - Siluanov
MOSCOW. July 12 (Interfax) - Small deviations from the federal budget deficit from the planned level of 2% of GDP by the end of 2023 are possible in both directions, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.
"The economy is mobile, and the deficit can also change a little. And it could be in one direction or the other," he told reporters on Wednesday.
At the same time, Siluanov noted that this year he does not see any special risks for the fulfillment of budget obligations. "In general, we will reach our planned goals. (...) We will fulfill all our primary obligations and find money for the tasks that need to be addressed," he said.
Answering a question about the necessary scale of redistribution of expenditures this year, the minister said: "This year we have no serious concerns about the execution of the budget. We have no problems with basic decisions at all; we will do everything. But with regard to additional issues, resources will be found."
Regarding the budgets for the next three years, the minister noted that additional funds would be required, and this issue is being discussed in the government. "Now we are working just within the government; we are working out our tasks of mobilizing resources together with our colleagues in the government. Yes, money will be required. As usual, the budget process is always ongoing," he said.
In June, Siluanov spoke about the need to raise funds for new state priorities within the budget. There is nowhere to increase spending, increase taxes or the deficit. At the same time, the minister noted that he sees a significant potential for the redistribution of expenditures within the federal budget can be done this year.
"We are also doing this right now; the Grigorenko Commission [the government commission on optimizing and increasing the efficiency of budget expenditures chaired by Deputy Prime Minister - Head of Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko]. I would like more serious decisions to be made here, as money will also be needed this year. And there are reserves," he told Interfax.
The minister explained that "the money is not being used somewhere, nor are new contracts being signed. Therefore, it needs to be redistributed to new tasks that are worth it. Not just within departments [that is, "transferred" between articles by the same budget fund managers], but put aside and used for the needs of the government. There are opportunities to find sources in the current year," he said.
First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov gave his expert assessment of the prioritization potential of 10-15% of Russian budget expenditures.
WEAK EXCHANGE RATE, STRONG BUDGET
Speaking about the impact of the commodity market and the ruble exchange rate on budget revenues, Siluanov said that oil prices "have fallen a little for us now" compared to last year, and the dollar has strengthened. "Therefore, if you look at the volume of oil and gas revenues (by the way, the price of gas has also fallen, and our volumes have also fallen), then we are now at, let's say it, the baseline level of oil and gas revenues [8 trillion rubles per year] included in the budget," he said on Tuesday.
Oil and gas revenues in January-June continued to decline year-on-year, down 47% to 3.382 trillion rubles, the latest data from the Finance Ministry show.
According to the Electronic Budget resource, as of July 10, Russia's budget revenues had reached 12.5388 trillion rubles, expenses were 15.7798 trillion rubles and the deficit was 3.241 trillion rubles.
Based on information from the Federal Treasury, the annual allocations for expenditures have been clarified, and, accordingly, so has the total amount of the 2023 budget deficit. According to the budget law, expenditures in 2023 are planned at 29.556 trillion rubles. The Treasury shows current approved budget allocations at 29.8963 trillion rubles. Revenue assignments remained the same at 26.1303 trillion rubles. Thus, the current estimate of the deficit is 3.766013 trillion rubles, and not the 2.9253 trillion rubles as per the budget law.
The Russian H1 federal budget, according to preliminary data from the Ministry of Finance, was executed with a deficit of 2.595 trillion rubles. Over the past month, this number has decreased 816 billion rubles. In January-May, the ministry estimated the deficit at 3.411 trillion rubles.