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Russian budget deficit revised lower

Sept. 29 (UPI) — With oil prices holding steadily above $50 per barrel, the Russian government said Friday it revised its estimate for the budget deficit lower by 5 percent.

Government figures, cited by Russian news agency Tass, show a forecast for the 2018 federal budget deficit at $21.9 billion. That’s lower than the previous estimate of $23.07 billion for next year.

By 2019, data show an estimated budget deficit of $14.2 billion and $15 billion in 2020. Both figures are lower than previous estimates by 5.5 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Revenues by 2020, meanwhile, should be $281.5 billion, 4.4 percent higher than the previous forecast.

State lawmakers in the Duma started reviewing the budget on Friday. A major exporter of crude oil, natural gas and other petroleum products, Russia’s economy relies heavily in energy revenue. According to a snapshot for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which referenced customs data from Moscow, value generated from crude oil exports alone were more than the total value of non-oil and natural gas exports combined.

An April forecast from the World Bank said the Russian economy would grow by about 1.3 percent this year, and then to about 1.4 percent through 2019. The situation, however, should be supportive of growth as the World Bank estimates the average price for crude oil will reach $60 per barrel next year.

The price for Brent crude, the global benchmark, was around $57 per barrel early Friday. Urals, the Russian benchmark, was priced at $55 per barrel.

This summer, Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina said the economy is “very close” to its target of reducing inflation from 7 percent to as low as 3 percent, but the time to move close to that benchmark is taking longer than expected.

Russia is party to an effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit production in order to balance an oversupplied market. It’s the largest contributor to that effort among non-member states, pledging to sideline about 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

After the deal was brokered in November, Nabiullina said recovery for the Russian economy will be slow with only minor growth for gross domestic product expected this year.

Russia’s economy lingered in recession last year and the national currency, the ruble, declined in value after crude oil prices dipped below $30 per barrel.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak hinted earlier this week the OPEC-led effort could be extended into next summer.

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