On 17 February 2017, Yekaterinburg hosted Gaidar Readings – Regional financial systems amid crysis: Regional budgets and banks of the Urals Federal Okrug – held under the auspices of the Gaidar Institute, the Urals Institute of Administration (a RANEPA branch), and the Yegor Gaidar Fund.

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Deputy Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Urals Federal Okrug Aleksandr Moiseev made a welcome speech and Gaidar Institute’s Executive Director Sergey Prikhodko made a keynote speech.

Rector of RANEPA Vladimir Mau opened the plenary session on “Economic Development of Russia and Regional Budgets Amid Crisis”.

Gaidar Institute’s Director for Academic Affairs Sergey Drobyshevsky reported on currently available economic growth factors in the Russian Federation and on economic policy challenges. RANEPA Senior researcher Alexei Vedev made a report, Medium-term forecast for the development of Russia’s economy and banking sector. Sverdlovsk Oblast Vice-Governor, Finance Minister Galina Kulachenko reported on approaches to budgeting and on main trends of budget execution in the region.

Researcher of Gaidar Institute’s Budget Policy Department Aleksandr Deryugin made a report on the current state and outlook of regional budgets. In 2016, the Sverdlovsk Oblast outranked other regions in growth in budget revenues. For instance, the year-end budget revenues of the Sverdlovsk Oblast stood at 9.4% versus 6.6% of other subjects of the Russian Federation. Profit tax revenues saw the fastest growth of 23.9%, excise duties were up 29%. Budget expenditure of the Sverdlovsk Oblast increased 3.3% versus 4.8% in other subjects of Russia. Aleksandr Deryugin noted that region’s public debt was on a gradual slide. In 2015, the debt accounted for 36.5% of tax and non-tax revenues, while the debt at year-end 2016 represented 33.8%.

    

Kurgan Oblast Vice-Governor, Head of the Financial Department Elena Lukashuk reported on approaches to budgeting and main trends of budget execution in the region. First Deputy Director of the Financial Department of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Andrei Zakharov reported on approaches to budgeting and on main trends of budget execution in the Okrug. Head of the
Department for Regional Industrial Policy and Economic Security, Doctor in Economics, RAS’s Prof. Victoria Akberdina made a report on Budget as guideline of socio-economic development of industrial regions. Chairman of Sberbank’s Ural Bank Vladimir Cherkashin reported on the bank’s contribution to the implementation of the monetary policy in the Ural region.

The second plenary session – Regional banking systems amid crisis: Findings from analysis of banks in the Urlas Federal Oblast – was opened by senior researcher of RANEPA’s Central Banks Research Centre Pavel Trunin. He made a report on Challenges of CBR’s monetary policy.

Pavel Trunin noted in his report that throughout the entire 2016 the Bank of Russia implemented a conservative monetary policy aimed at maintaining the inflation rate at a lower level. It was only twice in 2016 that the central bank lowered the key interest rate an additional 0.5 percentage points, to 10% p.a. Moreover, the central bank has not resorted to currency interventions since mid-2015.

    

In 2016, the Russian rouble was on the raise (the rouble-dollar nominal exchange rate increased 12%, to 20.7% in real terms amid raising crude prices and foreign capital inflows, thus helping preserve price stability, the expert noted.

A weak aggregate demand also contributed to a lower inflation rate (real cash incomes and retail sales turnover declined monthly by respectively 5.4% and 5.2% on average). As a result, the inflation rate dropped to 5.4% at year-end 2016 versus 12.9% in 2015, thus topping the all-time low of 6.1% that was reached in 2011, Pavel Trunin noted.

However, according to the speaker, there will be some headwinds to holding the 4% target inflation rate in 2017. For instance, inflation may be accelerated in 2017 through aggregate demand recovery due, among other things, to growth in nominal wages and indexation of pensions. Spending of the Reserve Fund and the National Wealth Fund also creates monetary preconditions for a higher inflation rate. The inertia nature of inflation expectations and exchange rate risks that may arise due to a possible worsening of terms of trade will be headwinds to a lower inflation rate, too.

Pavel Trunin also noted that the central bank will continue the conservative policy by gradually lowering the interest rate until it is sure that the target inflation rate has been reached. Head of Gaidar Institute’s Financial Research Department Mikhail Khromov made a report on Regional banks: Comparing the specifics of the Urals Federal Okrug with other regions.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Minister of Economy Dmitri Nozhenko reported on the current state of the Sverdlovsk Oblast banking system. Deputy Chairman of the Ural Banking Union Evgeniy Bolotin reported on main trends in the development of the banking system in the Ural region and on the Ural Banking Union. The discussion was closed by a report – Conditions for structural upgrade. State power and business: Management of relationships – of President of the Legislative Initiatives Fund Grigory Tomchin.

In the course of Gaidar Readings, the government of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, as represented by Governor Evgeny Kuivashev, and the RANEPA, as represented by Rector Vladimir Mau, entered into an agreement on cooperation in education and management, as well as the parties thereto agreed to pool efforts in the implementation of educational technologies and programmes, and to cooperate in the implementation of joint projects and initiatives.

Presentations of reports:
• G. Kulachenko. Sverdlovsk Oblast budget: Approaches to budgeting and main trends of budget execution
• A. Deryugin. Regional financial constraints amid crisis
• V. Akberdina. Budget as guideline of socio-economic development of industrial regions
• V. Cherkashin. Sberbank’s Ural Branch contributes to the national monetary policy in the Ural region
• P. Trunin. Challenges of CBR’s monetary policy
• M. Khromov. Regional banks: Comparing the specifics of the Urals Federal Okrug with other regions

Gaidar Readings in mass media:
• OTV channel: Vladimir Mau held Gaidar Readings in Yekaterinburg
• Rossyiskaya Gazeta: Minister: The middle Ural to see a budget surplus in 2018
• Davydov Index: Vladimir Mau: A new economy requires new assessments
• Core of Events: Sverdlovsk Oblast Finance Ministry calls a physicians salary increase a “disaster” for the region