IMF NEED RUSSIA
IMF - the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with the Russian Federation.
The Russian economy stabilized in 2016, contracting by just 0.2 percent of GDP, after being hit in 2014 by the dual shocks of lower oil prices and sanctions. The relatively modest reaction to the large external shocks reflects the authorities' effective policy response—floating exchange rate, banking system liquidity support and capital injections, and limited fiscal stimulus coupled with restrictive incomes policies. The policy response was also enabled by robust buffers.
The more stable oil prices and improved financial conditions will support a return to growth in 2017, with an expected increase in real GDP of 1.4 percent. Growth is forecast to continue at 1.4 percent in 2018. The still negative output gap, weak consumption demand, strengthening of the ruble and lower food prices from a bumper harvest are supporting the convergence of CPI inflation to the Central Bank target of 4 percent at end–2017. With adverse demographics, and barring significant structural reforms that lifts productivity, potential growth is likely to stay at around 1½ percent over the medium term. The main risk to the outlook remains a fall in oil prices.
Executive Board Assessment
Executive Directors agreed with the thrust of the staff appraisal. They commended the authorities for their effective policy response which, drawing on robust buffers, has helped the Russian Federation exit a two‑year recession. Looking forward, Directors stressed the need to reduce the economy's dependence on oil and rekindle structural reforms to support new sources of growth, accelerate per capita income convergence to that of advanced economies, and overcome demographic challenges.
Directors commended the authorities for reinstating the three‑year fiscal framework in the 2017 budget to reduce policy uncertainty. They emphasized that for the fiscal adjustment to be sustained, it should be underpinned by durable, well‑targeted measures and growth‑enhancing spending. Directors underlined the need for a credible fiscal rule to anchor the adjustment, allow a smoother response to oil price changes and build adequate savings. A parametric reform of the pension system would also deliver fiscal savings over time.
Directors welcomed the progress towards achieving the inflation objective. They recommended that monetary policy easing continue, but at a gradual pace, given the uncertain size of the output gap and the potential for disinflation reversal. They encouraged the authorities to shift the focus of their communication strategy to cover a longer horizon and clarify the acceptable departures from the inflation target.
Directors welcomed the steps taken to increase the resilience of the financial system, including an improved bank resolution mechanism. They encouraged further efforts to remove obstacles that discourage investors from effectively acquiring assets and liabilities in bank resolutions, replace central bank funding with federal funds, and increase recourse to banking industry capital. Directors also encouraged the authorities to revamp the statutory bail‑in legislation while keeping in mind financial stability implications. Directors noted that there is scope for further tightening the limit on related‑party lending and accelerating the introduction of explicit early bank intervention procedures.
Directors underscored that accelerated structural reforms and broader trade relations can help promote a diversified export mix. They also urged the authorities to strengthen property rights, advance privatization, improve governance, and invest in innovation and infrastructure to build the foundations for higher potential growth.
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