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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pochinok Upbeat Over Tax Revenues

Tax arrears continue to haunt the country, but this year's tax intake so far has been above target, and April may even see record-high collections, Tax Minister Alexander Pochinok said Wednesday.

Collections for March are likely to reach above 40 billion rubles ($1.41 billion), less than February's take, but still above expectations, news agencies reported Pochinok as saying at a news conference.

"We have reached a level comparable to many developed European countries," Itar-Tass quoted Pochinok as saying.

The Tax Ministry collected 41.5 billion rubles in February, down from a target of 51.5 billion rubles. The target for March is set at 35 billion rubles.

But Pochinok added that summer would see a decrease in tax takes even though levels would continue to stay at levels above 30 billion rubles.

Nineteen billion rubles of taxes collected in February came from large companies, mostly natural resource monopolies. Gazprom, the country's natural gas monopoly, paid 12.7 billion rubles, oil companies paid 4.5 billion rubles and UES, the national power grid operator, paid 900 million rubles.

However, Pochinok said payments from monopolies would decline in the future.

Alexei Zabotkin, a fixed-income analyst at United Financial Group, said Russia's overall tax collection situation has recently improved.

"The picture will remain favorable in March and April, even though expenditures will also be growing," Zabotkin said.

Pochinok also announced Wednesday that Gazprom still owes the ministry 30 billion rubles in back taxes.

But Zabotkin said the natural gas giant's arrears are in line with what they were at the beginning of the year. "Gazprom is current on its payments since the beginning of the year," he said.

That is a good sign, according to Renaissance Capital tax manager Pavel Vasilyev.

"Pochinok's main idea is that Gazprom is paying in cash instead of quasi-payments," he said. "That will improve the country's situation by allowing it to meet its obligations on foreign debt."

Payments in cash will also improve the financial regimes of companies, which need to manage their financial environment properly, Vasilyev added.

"In no other country can you find a company paying in promissory notes or commodities," he said.