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Will Russia's anti-crisis plan work?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 02:30

Russia's government intends to spend at least $35 billion helping the economy withstand Western sanctions and the collapse in oil prices. But as Katie Gregory reports the new anti-crisis plan is far from comprehensive and suggests the final cost could be much higher.

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It was a patriotic display - despite the karaoke-like appearance. Once the national anthem was out of the way, it was down to business. It's called the "Anti-crisis" plan - and put simply aims to do just that... haul Russia out of it's economic troubles. Singing it's praises, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FINANCE MINISTER ANTON SILUANOV, SAYING: "It includes urgent steps that the government will take in the near future." The 2.3 trillion rouble or $35 billion cash injection - aims to fight off the effects of falling oil prices - and western sanctions that are hurting the country's bottom line. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FINANCE MINISTER ANTON SILUANOV, SAYING: "The damage from these external shocks - and one probably can't call it otherwise - for the current account balance is about 200 billion U.S. dollars." The largest item on the list - taking up almost $15 billion - is recapitalising banks with new government bonds. Russia is also aiming to cut "the majority" of its planned expenditures by 10% this year, except for defence, social spending and debt repayment. That's with a view to bringing the budget back into line by 2017. But not even half of the 60 items in the plan have been costed, suggesting that the final bill for the scheme may be much more. Nick Beecroft is from Saxo Bank. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAXO BANK, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, NICK BEECROFT, SAYING: "I don't think it's enough to avoid a severe recession in Russia this year in the nature of 3% or 4% and probably next year as well. And one fears that the current, recent resurgance of violence in Ukraine is an example of Putin doing what I've been afraid might happen - using foreign adventures to deflect attention from domestic economic problems." The U.S. is now ramping up it's support for Ukraine - Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announcing a $2 billion loan guarantee. Talk of further sanctions against Russia also on the table, as he met with Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY, JACK LEW, SAYING: "Our first choice is a diplomatic resolution that allows us to lessen sanctions but we remain prepared to do more if necessary. To that end, we will continue to work with our allies to increase the pressure on Russia." And that pressure may come sooner rather than later. The conflict in Ukraine is firing up - with Pro-Russian separatists launching a new offensive.. which Kiev claims is bolstered by 9,000 Russian soldiers.

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Will Russia's anti-crisis plan work?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 02:30