Russia’s coronavirus economic stimulus to cost $72.7 billion, PM says

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Russia has earmarked 5 trillion roubles ($73 billion) to jump-start its economy through end-2021, its premier said on Tuesday, as the country eases a prolonged coronavirus lockdown which cost it jobs and triggered the deepest contraction since 2009.

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections nearing 424,000, the world’s third highest, Russia began to reopen this week with short walks permitted in Moscow and other, less hard-hit regions, canceling pass systems and reopening cafes.

In April, the first full month of a nationwide lockdown, joblessness jumped to 5.8 percent, retail sales dipped by 23.4 percent and gross domestic product contracted by 12 percent - its deepest fall since May 2009. Overall, GDP is forecast down by 5-8 percent this year.

The government has come up with around 500 specific support measures at a total cost of 5 trillion roubles though the end of next year, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in televised remarks.

“By the end of the recovery period we should achieve stable, prolonged economic growth above pre-crisis levels,” Mishustin said, without giving details or figures. Before the coronavirus crisis, Russian GDP was forecast to grow by 3.1-3.2 percent in 2021-22.

The pandemic has dealt a serious setback to the economic and social policy goals Putin set out after his re-election in 2018. At a total cost of nearly $400 billion though 2024, he wanted Russian GDP growth to exceed the global average by then.

Mishustin told Putin on Tuesday that the president’s 13 strategic goals, known as national projects ranging from infrastructure to education and healthcare, would “require certain adjustments”, without elaborating.

Putin on Monday set July 1 as the new date for a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, a delayed ballot that could extend his rule until 2036.

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