© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Woman holds Russian Rouble banknotes in this illustration taken May 30, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian authorities are discussing bringing back the compulsory sale of foreign currency revenues for exporters, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, with one high-level source saying that the change could be made “at any moment”.
The need to reintroduce stringent capital controls comes as Russian authorities grapple with a sharply weakening rouble, which tumbled past 100 to the dollar on Monday. An emergency 350-basis-point rate hike by the central bank on Tuesday, to 12%, seems to have only slowed the currency’s slide.
Five sources, who asked not to be identified because of the non-public nature of the talks, said authorities were discussing the forced conversion of FX revenues by exporters, a measure adopted shortly after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
One source at an exporting firm said the discussions concerned the forced conversion of up to 90% of exporters’ revenues. Another source among exporters said a range of 80-90% was being discussed, with conversion required within 70-90 days after the export of goods.
Other measures under discussion are bans on dividend payments abroad and prohibitions on import subsidies, that source added. Exporters who fail to return revenues to Russia could lose government support measures, too.
The source said businesses would pay for the government’s mistakes.
“You can milk a cow to death, but once the cow dies, who will be milked? The population?” the source said.
The high-level source hinted that the move was imminent, in spite of the fact that part of Russia’s export revenues are now in roubles and Indian rupees, a consequence of Moscow seeking to move away from the currencies of what it considers “unfriendly” Western countries.
Russia has been supplying India with cheap oil. Russia’s RBC daily on Wednesday quoted the head of an Indian industry confederation as saying that a significant amount of trade between India and Russia is being conducted in rupees, with mechanisms for settlement in roubles being explored.