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The social direction in Sakhalin will be protected from the crisis

The authorities of the island region discussed with residents the budget for the next three years

The Sakhalin Region has formed a budget for 2021 and for the planning period for 2022-2023. The main financial document of the region was drawn up with the maximum permissible deficit. The region will also resort to external borrowing for the first time in many years. The reasons are a decrease in world prices for hydrocarbons, a drop in the level of oil production at the Sakhalin-1,2, XNUMX projects, as well as the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Despite this, the regional authorities promise to fulfill all social programs and obligations.

The social direction in Sakhalin will be protected from the crisis
Photo: Press Service of the Government of Sakhalin Region

OIL AND GAS LOSSES

The Sakhalin Oblast's budget consists of 65% of oil and gas revenues. It is not difficult to calculate future income: the forecast of the socio-economic development of Russia contains the expected oil price (for 2021 - $ 45,3 for the Urals grade) and the dollar exchange rate (72,4 rubles). At the same time, oil production at Sakhalin-1,2, 2023 projects by 26 will decrease by 2020% from the level of 2020, said the head of the regional government Alexei Belik, speaking at a public hearing on the draft law on the budget of the Sakhalin region. As a result, oil and gas revenues will almost halve compared to 56 and amount to about RUB XNUMX billion.

Undoubtedly, life is more complicated than forecasts: oil may rise in price sharply, oilmen will increase production, and instead of a deep minus the treasury will get a plus. But no one will plan the budget, relying on chance. If the federal center changes the forecast, only then will the parameters of regional budgets be revised.

In 2021, regional revenues are planned at 108 billion rubles (64,3 billion less than this year), expenses - 128,2 billion rubles. Spending will exceed revenues in the next two years: in 2022 - 91,1 billion and 104,1 billion, respectively, in 2023 - 86,3 billion and 98,6 billion rubles.

Alexey Belik said that the region is not expected to recover income at the level of 2019-2020. According to him, the budget had to be aligned with the maximum legal deficit: it will be 19,6% in 2021 and 15% each in 2022-2023. To ensure the balance of the budget in the face of a deficit, the region will resort to borrowing. The region plans to attract the first loan, short-term - 8,5 billion rubles - to close the cash gap in January. In total, in 2021 the volume of borrowings will amount to 24 billion.

“This amount is sufficient to ensure budgetary balance and fulfillment of all obligations,” stressed Alexey Belik.

He added that the main financial document of the region was drawn up according to the "classical model of a balanced budget", and noted that it does not contain any extraordinary steps and decisions.


SOCIAL REFERENCE

Despite the losses, the Sakhalin Oblast budget will remain socially oriented. This was stated by the governor of the region Valery Limarenko. In 2021, 72 billion rubles will be spent on social needs, which is 57% of all expenses. Of this amount, 21 billion will go to targeted support for families and children in need of citizens, as well as the development of a system of social services for the population, 26 billion - for education, 17 billion - for healthcare, 18 billion - for housing and road construction. The authorities emphasize that the pace of housing construction will not decrease. At the same time, all previously assumed social obligations will be fulfilled. This, according to Belik, is planned to be achieved through a clear allocation of priority costs.

“This is a response to the challenge that life gives,” said Valery Limarenko. - Are we ready for this challenge? I think yes. Our task is to preserve the main social programs. We proceed from the assumption that the current situation is temporary, and we have to live for three years in special conditions. We have already started a program to diversify the economy. Investment programs have been prepared for a total of 750 billion rubles, which we are going to implement in the next five years. As a result, about eight thousand highly qualified jobs will appear. The programs, of course, will not give a quick result and will not "shoot" within a year. We will feel the effect in three years. But this is a fundamentally important policy, and we will implement it. "

The Governor also stressed that in the new macroeconomic conditions, the authorities should more widely use new financial and economic mechanisms, primarily the instrument of concessions and public-private partnership projects.


FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

In 2018, when the volatility in the oil market was already quite obvious, the Ministry of Finance proposed to "mirror" the proportion according to which 75% of oil and gas revenues went to the Sakhalin Oblast, and only 25% to the federal budget. It did not work to turn the pyramid upside down, but the region was still strongly "pinched": since 2018, it and the center have divided the income in half. Despite this, the region ended 2019 with a small surplus - 500 million rubles. This year Sakhalin is still listed in the Ministry of Finance as a non-subsidized region: there are only 13 of them in the country, the rest to one degree or another depend on financial assistance from the Federation.

This week Valery Limarenko asked the Russian Ministry of Finance for additional financial support. The region needs help to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and oil and gas losses.

With a proposal to help the region, the governor turned to the Deputy Minister of Finance Irina Okladnikova. Valeriy Limarenko asked for additional funding to implement programs for resettlement from hazardous housing, asphalting roads, building schools and other social facilities. The region will also need financial support to increase the stability of the power grid complex - a large-scale reconstruction of dilapidated networks and the creation of infrastructure for new users is required. Also, the Deputy Minister of Finance and the Head of the Sakhalin Region discussed the possibility of allocating a federal subsidy in 2021 to compensate for rising gas prices.

According to Ruslan Grinberg, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the situation in the Sakhalin Oblast in the medium term depends entirely on the position of the federal authorities.

“Apart from the Center, the regions, in fact, have no other serious sources to attract loans. Whether the Federation will be generous enough with respect to the Sakhalin Oblast depends on many factors, including unobvious ones, which are difficult to take into account and predict, ”Ruslan Grinberg believes.

Since the uncertainty associated with the pandemic, as well as tectonic changes in the hydrocarbon market, have a negative impact on the federal treasury, the question arises, what tactics will Moscow choose: to "squeeze" more and more out of the regions? Or, on the contrary, to support them in a difficult situation? In any case, the center will seek balance, Greenberg said.

“Unfortunately, the situation is characterized by such extreme uncertainty that it is difficult to predict the course of events not only for three years, but even for three months. To an even deeper regret, it seems to me that one cannot fully rely on the decisive role of investment contracts, on the fact that they will certainly "fire", we do not know if this will happen and when it will happen. In such an environment, the actions of the Center will represent every minute search for new balances and equilibria in order to prevent an aggravation of the social situation, all other tasks temporarily go into the shadows, "- summarizes the corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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