Experts predict Russia's impoverishment due to sanctions and capital outflows

Experts predict Russia's impoverishment due to sanctions and capital outflows
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Business people are withdrawing dozen billion dollars from the country.

Russia is setting new economic antirecords. Over the seven months of 2018, the outflow of capital from our country, according to the Central Bank, was about $21.5 billion and has increased 2.5 times year-on-year. Experts are convinced that Russian businessmen are no longer attracted by the state's promises to turn a blind eye to tax optimization of past years and possible forgiveness of responsibility for such operations. Our wealthy compatriots, on the contrary, are afraid to leave their money in Russia because of strengthened US sanctions and the possible growth of internal control over financial operations.

According to the results of the first half of 2017, the net export of capital from Russia by the private sector amounted to only $8.7 billion. During the same period of 2016, about $10.5 billion was withdrawn from our country. These dynamics made the government have rosy hopes that in the future the positive trend would continue. The Central Bank jumped to the assumption that in 2017 the outflow of capital from the country would not exceed $17 billion.

The forecast turned out to be wrong - for the past year, net capital export from Russia totaled $24.8 billion. This year, the Bank of Russia expected outflow of $19 billion, but it is already clear that this figure will exceed at least twice.

Even the promises of officials to grant preferences to domestic entrepreneurs, including the amnesty for shady financial transactions, made during the accumulation of capital in the 1990s, are unable to affect the negative dynamics. Since March 1, the second stage of the tax amnesty has started in our country. The government again allowed entrepreneurs keeping savings abroad to voluntarily declare foreign assets and accounts. In exchange, they were promised exemption from criminal and administrative responsibility, as well as from paying taxes for former years.

Domestic nouveaux riches did not take such bait. And this is not strange. The first tax amnesty that took place between 2015 and 2016 also did not yield the long-awaited fruit. During that period, only 7.2 thousand declarations for the amount of $100 million were submitted, whereas, according to experts, foreign investments of large business people from Russia, kept abroad ranging from $200 billion to $1.3 trillion.

As previously recognized by the Central Bank, the outflow of capital from Russia is now formed not through the repayment of debts of domestic financial and corporate organizations, but due to the growth of foreign assets of Russian companies.

In other words, our businessmen, who have been keeping their savings abroad before, now transfer funds to specific assets - they acquire foreign enterprises. As a result, according to the Head of the Financial Research Laboratory of Gaidar Institute Mikhail Khromov, the revenue "does not manage to reach the country." Free funds either remain in foreign accounts or are converted into direct investments - real estate, agricultural, industrial and infrastructure projects.

Even new sanctions initiatives of the US do not scare domestic business. Attempts of Russian authorities to convince businessmen of the investment attractiveness of our country and the extension of the amnesty of capital for another year do not affect entrepreneurs who continue to accumulate funds in foreign banks. "This indicates the inadequate protection of financial capital in our country, which even under conditions of sanctions and amnesty promises continue to be in the jeopardy of the leadership of the state," deems Alexey Makarkin, Deputy Director of the Center for Political Technologies.

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