Russian former finance minister Alexei Kudrin on Monday spoke against the idea put forward by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to charge a one-off fee to the owners of large state enterprises privatized in the early 1990s.
Putin, who is running for president and is expected to return the Kremlin after the March 2012 elections, suggested at the congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs last week that Russia should charge a fee to oligarchs who acquired lucrative state assets in the so-called loans-for-shares deals virtually for a song.
Putin said the charge was necessary to win public acceptance of the privatizations of the early 1990s and close the topic of the “dishonest” state property sell-off once and for all.
Kudrin, who had served as finance minister in 2000-2011 and under whom the Russian government had paid most of its substantial foreign debt and created oil wealth funds to soften the blow of the global slump, however, disagreed.
“I don’t support the idea of a one-off payment by investors who participated in the privatization deals in the 1990s. The legal and economic environment would deteriorate. If the privatization deals struck 17 years ago are encumbered, this would undermine new privatization and ownership rights as a whole,” Kudrin wrote on his Twitter account.
The loans-for-shares auctions were organized under late President Boris Yeltsin under the pretext of raising money for the federal budget to pay wages, pensions and honor other social obligations assumed by the state.