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31 Oct, 2008 11:41

Real sectors of economy wait for Government funds to flow through

Russia is channeling tens of billions of dollars into the financial system to prop up the economy. But many Russian companies complain the banks are not passing it on.

Russia’s bailout plan tops $200 Billion, more than that of the United States when you compare the size of the economies. Presidential Aide Arkady Dvorkovich insists the measures are adequate.

“The banks need to be sure that within several months – and that's the time frame we can realistically hope for – they can get a set amount of financing. Once they know for sure that they can count on this money, they will begin to lend again.

It’s taken a heavy toll on the Central Bank’s reserves. They’ve lost over $100 Billion since August, spent on supporting banks and defending the Ruble.

Starting in October, the State has been offering unsecured loans to a wide range of Russian banks. The money is meant to help companies re-finance their debt to Western banks.  But Russian businesses have issued an SOS – complaining they haven’t seen the money.

So where did it go?

Richard Hainsworth, from RusRating says the banks are sitting on a pile of cash, fearing the worst is still to come:

“Obviously, the state-owned banks have got a lot of cash.  They are the ones who should be lending. They fact that they are not lending is really the crisis of corporate governance and they should overcome that. I expect to see Sberbanks and the like beginning to lend by next week.”

According to Pyotr Aven, the head of Russia’s largest private bank, Alfa-Bank, the state should attach strings to any cash offers – only those banks that agree to finance the real sector of the economy would get state money.

“We are provided by Ministry of Finance and Central bank with unconditional money. We can do with this money what we want. So I wouldn’t be against if they tell us here’s the money but that’s how you have to use it. To finance this or that sector or even more exact – this sort of enterprise or something like that. They have to provide conditional financing to be sure it goes to the real sector.”

The crisis is starting to paralyze the economy. This week, four of Russia's largest energy companies said they’ve asked the government for loans to pull them through next year.

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