BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2018/02

The remaining assets of the Reserve Fund, about 17 billion dollars (1 trillion rubles) were allocated in December to cover the federal budget shortfall. As decided last summer, the Reserve Fund is now closed and the National Welfare Fund remains Russia's sole oil fund. Russia decided to divide its sovereign oil wealth fund into two funds in 2008. The Reserve Fund was intended for covering budget deficits, while the National Welfare Fund was intended to finance pensions. During 2015–2017, Russia drained roughly 90 billion dollars from the Reserve Fund to cover budget spending.

The value of the National Welfare Fund fell by 7 billion dollars last year, mostly due to financing of pensions. At the start of 2018, the Fund held assets of 65 billion dollars (3.75 trillion rubles). Nearly 40 billion dollars are liquid assets, with the rest invested in e.g. long-term deposits in state-owned banks or infrastructure projects. The Fund will be filled with last year's higher-than-expected oil revenues of about 14 billion dollars (840 billion rubles) according to finance minister Siluanov. Therefore Russia's liquid oil fund assets total around 50 billion dollars (3 % of GDP).

Fund assets of about 19 billion dollars (1.1 trillion rubles) are planned be used this year to cover budget deficit, but the budget is based on a cautious oil price assumption of 44 dollars a barrel. Only a small depletion of Fund assets is planned for 2019–20.