Economy Ministry Expects Ruble to Weaken, Growth to Pick up after 2019

In a set of forecasts until 2036 released on Wednesday, the Russian economy ministry said it expects the ruble to weaken gradually and economic growth to pick up after 2019, Reuters reports.

The ruble rate will average 61.7 against the dollar in 2018, 63.9 in 2019 and 75.2 in 2036, the ministry forecasts. The rouble traded at 67.27 against the U.S. currency on Wednesday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to exceed 3.0 percent in 2021, up from 1.8 percent seen this year, the ministry said.

The economy ministry also said it forecasts Russia’s oil production will total 549 million tons this year, 557 million tons in 2019 and 562 million tons in 2020.

Russia is expected to export 255.7 million tons of crude oil in 2018, 257.7 million tons in 2019 and 259.2 million tons in 2020, the forecast envisages.

Meanwhile, Russia’s prime minister dismissed the head of the statistics agency on Monday and appointed an economy ministry official to the post, with the government pledging to radically overhaul the body’s data gathering methods.

Economists have raised questions about the independence of the Federal Statistics Service, or Rosstat, saying its economic data has become less accurate and seemed surprisingly optimistic during the country’s economic woes of the past few years.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Alexander Surinov as Rosstat’s head and appointed Pavel Malkov, formerly director of the public administration department at the economy ministry, to replace him.

“The organization needs serious reform. We need to be talking about a complete overhaul of the team, about new principles and methods of work,” Finance minister Anton Siluanov said.