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30 Jan, 2009 17:59

Duma gets gloomy outlook on budget

The Russian government has revised it budget outlook in the wake of deteriorating economic data. The revision means that Russia’s reserves will be further eaten into in an attempt to minimize the downturn.

MPs grilled ministers over the economy on Friday. Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin painted a grim picture.

“The collapse in oil prices will drop our export incomes from $469 Billion to $269 Billion. Imports will drop by $50 Billion, capital flight may be $110 Billion this year, and inflation could go above 13%.”

But Elina Ribakova, Chief Economist at Citibank Russia says realisation their money's running out should end unsustainable spending.

“They're planning a large fiscal deficit. Kudrin was mentioning between six per cent and our estimate is we could reach ten per cent of GDP, which is most of the reserve fund. So under that scenario yes, we could easily run out of money this year. But I hope that by prudent macroeconomic preemptive policies, we'll not allow that to happen.”

To plug this year's budget Kudrin says he'll spend most of Russia's remaining $200 billion reserves. The budget had assumed oil at $95 a barrel, it's now around half that price.