< /p> Russian rubles, banknotes – illustration photo.
Moscow – The Russian budget showed a deficit of 2.58 trillion rubles (CZK 755.8 billion) in the first two months of this year, while in the same period last year it ended with a surplus of 415 billion rubles. Moscow increased spending significantly, while revenues fell due to lower sales of oil and gas. This follows from data published today by the Russian Ministry of Finance.
Last year, the Russian economy proved to be unexpectedly resilient to Western sanctions imposed after the Russian attack on neighboring Ukraine. However, a return to pre-conflict prosperity is nowhere in sight as military spending rises and price caps reduce important energy export revenues.
Oil and gas revenues fell 46.4 percent to 947 billion rubles in January and February compared to the same period last year. Total budget revenues fell by 24.8 percent. On the contrary, spending rose by 51.5 percent to 5.74 trillion rubles.
The Ministry of Finance stopped publishing monthly budget data last year. Today's report indicated that the monthly budget deficit fell to 821 billion rubles in February from a record 1.76 trillion rubles in January, Reuters reported.
The Ministry of Finance also announced that there was USD 147.2 billion (CZK 3.2 trillion) in the state's national welfare fund as of March 1. This corresponds to roughly 7.4 percent of the gross domestic product. But a month ago, the fund had $155.3 billion. The ministry added that it spent 131.7 billion rubles from the fund to cover the budget deficit.
The reduction in the monthly deficit may ease market concerns about monetary policy tightening. Russia's central bank has warned that further widening of the budget deficit could force it to raise interest rates from the current level of 7.5 percent. The next meeting of the monetary committee will be held on March 17.
Russia has relied on oil and gas revenues to finance its budget spending. Last year, these revenues amounted to approximately 11.6 trillion rubles. The country was forced to start selling its foreign reserves to cover the higher costs caused by the invasion of Ukraine.
So far, Russia has managed to redirect oil exports from Europe to other countries, mainly to India, China and Turkey. The data also show that Russia managed to sell oil above the price limit set by Western countries, i.e. for more than $60.