Alexei Vedev, Head of the Financial Studies Department, Gaidar Institute commented to MK.RU on the RF Government’s decision to suspend the fiscal rule in respect of utilization of additional federal budget oil and gas revenues in 2022. In Alexei Vedev’s opinion, it is an absolutely rationale decision aimed at stabilizing the Russian rouble’s exchange rate and facilitating a financial and macroeconomic stability.
The fiscal rule under which all excess profits from imports of energy commodities are transferred to the National Welfare Fund (NWF) is suspended till the end of 2022. Additional revenues from sale of energy commodities will be credited to the accounts of the NWF only after deducting sums needed for “substitution of the government’s borrowings, repayment of the public debt and execution of public liabilities of the Russian Federation in case of a lack of allocations, as well as for other purposes specified by the Government.” Obviously, the replenishment of the NWF in current conditions is highly unlikely; on the contrary, the NWF’s volume will inevitably be decreasing.     The upside is that the government receives additional Rb5-Rb6 trillion of funds directly to the budget.
According to the data of the RF Ministry of Finance, as of April 1, the NWF was equal to Rb13.05 trillion or 9.8% of GDP projected in 2022. It turns out that within a month the NWF increased because it accumulated Rb12.9 trillion as of March 1. However, as the NFW is a part of Russia’s gold and foreign-exchange reserves, its foreign-exchange component (except for yuan) in correspondent accounts with foreign banks is blocked by sanctions.  It concerns particularly euro 38.5 bn, GBP4.1 bn and JPY600.3 bn. Other funds are placed in deposits with large Russian state-owned banks and invested in infrastructure projects and equities. Overall, the NWF’s liquid portion which can potentially be used for current needs is equal to Rb9.7 trillion. 
“The Government did the absolutely rational thing by departing from the policy of saving and “stockpiling” financial resources in reserves. At present, the main challenge is to stabilize the rouble’s exchange rate and prevent devaluation and a slump in industrial production and stimulate final demand. We are amid high uncertainties and grave risks. What is meant here is an anti-crisis measure," Alexei Vedev noted.