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It is the discussion on this problem whether revenues should be regulated, or financial covering of the expenditures of local budgets be provided instead, the standard norms for which should be set from above that turned out to be the main focus of the Councils meeting. The proponents of the former approach suggested that the right granted to the Federations subjects to earmark as financial aid the normative deductions from any taxes transferred to a regional budget should be extended beyond the transition period and, moreover, for as long as another three or more years. Those who supported the latter variant were emphasizing the necessity to revive the federal draft law on minimum social standards, or to enable the Federations subjects to set their own norms for municipal expendi tures at the regional level and to distribute financial aid in accordance with those norms8. In this connection, the idea of establishing norms entails that of the necessity to regulate municipal expenditures.

Thus, as one positive example, they referred to the experience of Rostov Oblast, where since 2005 a comprehensive methodology has been applied to determining the staff numbers and structure of state bodies of executive authority and bodies of local self-government. It is remarkable, however, that neither of these two approaches has been incorporated in its pure form in the final version of the Councils recommendations.

Irreconcilable opinions have been voiced also with regard to the other issues of municipal reform under discussion, in particular that of the feasibility of enlarging the existing municipal formations and of the necessity to either preserve or abolish the practice of negative transfers. These aspects of the discussion were also left outside the text of the Councils decision.

Investments of pension savings in the system of mandatory pension insurance in Q I L. Mikhailov, L. Sychiova In Q I 2008 the value of assets in the mandatory funded pension system, less the amount of insurance contributions to the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation (PFR), increased by 0.3%.

The independent pension funds (IPF) engaged in mandatory pension insurance accounted for 10.6% of the total assets managed by the government asset manager (GAM), private asset managers (PAMs) and IPF. The share of government ruble-denominated securities in GAMs investment portfolio increased, while that of foreign-currencies-denominated ones wend down, similarly to the amounts of funds kept on accounts at credit institutions. In the aggregate investment portfolio of PAMs the percentages of shares, corporate bonds and federal and subfederal debt liabilities became lower, while that of monies rose substantially. The rate of return on pension savings invested by the GAM by the results of this years Q I amounted to 3.54%, which was noticeably higher than the interest rates on the GKO OFZ market. The rates of return demonstrated by PAMs was influenced by the negative trends on the securities market.

In Q I 2008 the value of assets in the mandatory funded pension system, less the amount of insurance contributions to the PFR, increased by 0.3% (from 401.9 to 403.3 billion rubles see Table 1)9.

In this connection, the rate of growth of pension savings held by non-government pension funds (IPF) was 59 %. A high proportion of this growth occurred due to a switchover of insured persons from the PFR to IPFs. Accordingly, the amount of the pension savings managed by the government asset manager (GAM) also decreased, which can also be noted, although to a lesser degree, with regard to private asset managers (PAMs).

As a result, as of the end of Q I, the IPFs involved in mandatiry pension insurance accounted for 10.6 % of the total amount of assets managed by the GAM, PAMs and IPFs. The total share of pension savings invested by PAMs and held by IPFs by the end of Q I 2008 amounted to 13.6 % against 9 % as of this years beginning, and 6.7 % as of the beginning of 2007.

By the quarters end the market value of assets in which pension savings were invested by the GAM amounted to 348.7 billion rubles, having decreased by comparison with the level at this years begin It is noteworthy that in some regions this practice of norm-setting has been in existence for a sufficiently long period of time. An analysis of some of the approaches to establishing such norms at regional level has made it possible to reveal, alongside the general drawbacks discussed above, some specific problems inherent in the technology of such norm-setting. Firstly, such norms are, to a certain extent, always based on actual expenditures. Thus those municipal formations where these expenditures are higher, which usually corresponds to higher budget revenues, are in a more advantageous position. A comparison between the model of financing normative expenditures and that of budget sufficiency equalization on the basis of regional case studies has demonstrated that low-income municipal formations would gain from a switchover to budget sufficiency equalization, while those with high incomes would be losers. Secondly, the size and differentiation of norms are largely, and inevitably, subjective. Thirdly, the norms may remain at the same level without revision for a long time, which would undermine municipal formations opportunities for adjusting the financing of their expenditures to the inflation rate.

Hereinafter, the data published by the PFR and the Federal Service for Financial Markets (FSFM) are applied.

ning by 14.4 billion rubles, while the net outflow of pension savings from the GAM was 17.3 billion rubles (2.9 billion rubles is the sum by which the value of assets was increased).

Table Value of assets in the mandatory funded pension system, 2007 - 2008 (in billion rubles) 1.1.2007 1.1.2008 1.4.The value of assets in which the pension savings transferred to asset managers were 276.2 375.1 360.invested including in the GAM 267.1 362.9 348. including in PAMs 9.2 12.2 12.Pension savings accumulated in IPF 9.96 26.8 42.Total 286.2 401.9 403.Among the IPF involved in mandatory pension insurance, the leading one (the IPF Blagosostoianie) held 23 % of pension savings, immediately followed by the IPF LUKOIL Garant (14.2 %). The aggregate share of the 5 biggest IPFs (by their volume of attracted pension savings) as of the end of Q I 2008 was 56.1 %. At the same time, the total sum of pension savings still amounts to only 8.8 % of the total pension reserves of all IPF (that is, the funds attracted by IPFs within the framework of voluntary pension provision).

Approximately one half of the pension savings held by PAMs in trusteeship management is concentrated at 5 companies (53 % as of the end of Q I 2008). The two leaders UK Pensionnnyi reserv and UK Rosbank were holding 13.6 % and 12.5 % of the total pension savings managed by PAMs respectively.

Structure of investments The structure of Vneshekonombanks investments and the aggregate investment portfolio of all the PAMs as of the end of the year 2007, as well as the end of Q I 2008, is shown in Fig. 14. In this connection it should be noted that due to a seasonal factor the transfer by the PFR of pension savings on the basis of applications submitted by insured persons, which occurred towards the end of Q I, the structure of PAMs investments turned out to be, for purely technical reasons, significantly different from the same indices registered as of the end of the year 2007. Thus, investments in securities as of the end of 2007 constituted 86.3 % of the aggregate investment portfolio, whereas as of the end of Q I 2008 only 78.3 %. At the same time the share of monies held on accounts at credit institutions increased by several times. As for the GAM, this problem was less acute, because the sum of pension savings transferred to the PFR was higher than the sum of funds received from the PFR. As a result, the share of securities in the investment portfolio of GAM as of the end of Q I 2008 was found to be even higher than at the end of the year 2007 (93.4 % against 88.6 %) Investments by the GAM In Q I the GAMs investment portfolio was characterized by an increasing share of rubledenominated securities (from 84.3 % to 92.6 %) and a declining shate of foreign-currenciesdenominated securities (from 4.3 % to 0.9 %), as well as by diminishing monies on accounts at credit institutions both in absolute and relative terms (from 9.9 % to 5.4 %). At the same time, the share of investments in government saving bonds (GSO)10 in the investment portfolio of GAM increased from 28 % to 35 %, thus amounting to 37.8 % of the total sum of investments made by GAM in rubledenominated government securities.

Non-marketable securities issued by the RF Ministry of Finance for institutional investors. The investments in GSO were opened from mid-2007 onwards. There are no such securities in PAMs portfolios.

RF government securities, de- Monies at credit institutions RF ruble-denominated gov9,9% nominated in for-eign ernment securities Other currencies 84,3% 1,5% 4,3% Fig. 1. The structure of the investment portfolio of the government asset manager (Vneshekonombank), as of the end of 2007.

Other 0,0% RF government securities, de Monies at credit institutions nominated in for-eign currencies 1,2% 5,4% 0,9% RF ruble-denominated government securities 92,6% Fig. 2. The structure of the investment portfolio of the government asset manager (Vneshekonombank), as of the end of Q I 2008.

Investments by PAMs As seen from Fig. 3 and 4, the percentage of shares in the aggregate investment portfolio of PAMs over the period under consideration decreased from 30.2 % to 26.3 %, that of corporate bonds - from 38.8 % to 36.7 %, that of federal debt liabilities from 4.6 % to 3.3 %, and that of subfederal ones from 11.2 % to 10.2 %. However, as stated earlier, at the same time the aggregate investment portfolio of PAMs was demonstrating an increasing percentage of monies (from 1.9 % to 11.4 %), therefore it would be more correct to analyze the changes occurring in the structure of investments in securities over the same period, after elimination of the impact produced by the dynamics of other types of assets. If one looks only at the changes in relative percentages of investments in different classes of securities, the changes in indices would appear to be more gradual (see Table 2).

RF govern-ment securities 4,6% Municipal bonds Monies on 1,5% accounts at credit institu-tions Deposits Oyher 1,9% Subfederal bonds 7,3% 4,4% 11,2% Shares Bonds of Russian 30,2% eco-nomic societies 38,8% Fig. 3. The structure of the aggregate investment portfolio of private asset managers (PAMs) as of the end of 2007.

RF govern-ment Municipal bonds securities Deposits Monies on accounts 1,8% 3,3% 6,4% at credit institu-tions Oyher 11,4% 3,8% Subfederal bonds 10,2% Shares Bonds of Russian 26,3% eco-nomic societies 36,7% Fig. 4. The structure of the investment portfolios of private asset managers (PAMs) as of the end of Q I 2007.

The percentage of subfederal bonds remained approximately at the same level (13 %), that of corporate bonds increased from 44.9 % to 46.8 %, while the total percentage of bonds - from 65.1 to 66.4 %, alongside a slight decline in the percentage of shares (from 34.9 % to 33.6 %).

Table The structure of investments made by PAMs in securities (as % of all investments in securities) As of end of As of end of Q I 2007 Securities, total 100 bonds 65.1 66. RF government securities 5.4 4. RF subjects government securities 12.9 13. Municipal bonds 1.8 2. Bonds issued by Russian economic societies 44.9 46. shares 34.9 33.Among the PAMs with the most substantial investment portfolios (as of the end of Q I 2008) the percentage of securities varied between 66.6 % (UK Pensionnyi reserv) and 89.4 % (UK SolidManagement). Shares were present in the investment portfolios of all these asset managers, while the lowest percentage of shares was demonstrated by the investment portfolio of Pensionnyi reserv (18.2 %), the highest by the investment portfolio of Solid-Management (47 %11). The structures of investments in securities made by the biggest asset managers are shown in Table 3. The investment policies of the leaders vary most markedly with regard to subfederal and municipal securities. Thus, while in Pensionnyi reservs investment portfolio their total amount constituted 33.3 %, in that of Solid-Management the same index was less than 1 %, and in Uralsibs investment portfolio less than 2 %.

Table The structure of investments in securities and the rates of return achieved by the PAM leaders in terns of their net asset value as of the end of Q I (as % of all investments in securities) PENSIONNYI ROSBANK URALSIB TROIKA SOLID RESERV DIALOG MANAGEMENT Securities, total 100 100 100 100 Bonds 72.6 71.5 54.8 48.3 47. RF government securities 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 4. RF subjects government securities 24.3 10.5 1.1 8.4 0. Municipal bonds 9.0 0.0 0.8 0.0 0. Bonds issued by Russian economic societies 39.3 61.1 52.9 39.9 41. Shares 27.4 28.5 45.2 51.7 52.Rate of return, % per annum -12.3 -21.7 -27.7 -38.3 -27.Rate of return on investments The rate of return on the pension savings invested by the GAM, as seen by the results of Q I of this year, amounted to 3.54 % and turned out to be much lower than the interest rates on the GKO-OFZ market, which had been previously observed in the first half-year 2006 (see Fig. 5). Nevertheless, this was the best result achieved by comparison with all the asset managers operating during the period under observation. The results demonstrated by the PAMs varied from 3.53 % achieved by UK Vik to 38.3 % achieved by UK Troika-Dialog.

Over the period under consideration, in addition to the traditional causes of the low rate of return on the investments made by the GAM, that is, the concentration of investments in ruble-denominated government securities, a negative impact on the market value of the GAMs, assets, and conse At the same time, this is the highest index among all PAMs.

quently, on their rate of return was being produced by a decline in prices on the government securities market. Thus, the price of OFZ Issue 46018, whose share was greatest in the portfolio of marketable ruble-denominated government securities, decreased by 3.6 % during that quarter.

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