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Russia to Start Disclosing Debt of State-Owned Companies. In Four Years.

The government will publish a consolidated balance sheet for thousands of state-owned enterprises.

The balance sheets of thousands of Russian state-owned entities will be included on a consolidated government financial statement from 2023. Andrei Lyubimov / RBC / TASS

The Russian government will start publishing financial information on its army of state-backed companies from 2023, the Finance Ministry has confirmed to the RBC news website.

Only 8,000 of the almost 60,000 companies, organisations, subsidiaries and agencies owned, or partially-owned by the Russian government currently publish such information. The rest are deemed either too small or are protected from disclosures for national security reasons.

Starting in 2023, the government will publish a consolidated and audited statement of financial information for the entire sector. It will cover figures such as total debt, outstanding payments and combined wage obligations of state-owned companies, analysts said.

The move to open-up the books comes after years of pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Analysts told RBC that while the Russian government has very low levels of debt, it is a different story when it comes to the businesses and agencies controlled by the state — something the combined statement is expected to shine a light on. The IMF itself highlighted in 2014 that liabilities of Russia’s state corporations stood at 127% of Russia’s GDP. 

Before the government can publish a consolidated statement, the Finance Ministry said it needs to introduce standardized accounting procedures so that balance sheets of different organizations can be combined.

The Russian government has a direct majority stake in around 400 companies and minority shareholdings in another 600. Once companies owned by Russia’s regional authorities, and other subsidiaries and state institutions are included, the number of economic entities with a state interest climbs to 58,800. At the end of 2016, they accounted for around 20% of Russia’s economy, the IMF calculated.

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