The expenses of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine under the “payments on value recovery instruments (VRI)” item in December 2021 amounted to UAH 4.635 billion, the State Treasury said in a report on the execution of the state budget on Friday.
According to the National Bank’s average official hryvnia-to-U.S. dollar exchange rate for December, this corresponds to about $170 million, which was probably used to buy out VRI on the market.
The Ministry of Finance did not comment on these December changes in the item of state budget expenditures to Interfax-Ukraine.
In total, over the past year, expenses under this item totaled UAH 5.633 billion, with an updated plan for the year of UAH 6.755 billion, while the original plan was UAH 1.155 billion.
Within its framework, in May, Ukraine, according to the Ministry of Finance, made the first payment on VRI issued as part of the restructuring of Ukraine’s public debt in 2015, which amounted to $40.751 million.
The May report of the State Treasury indicated the amount of expenses UAH 1.123 billion, but a month later it was reduced by 11%, to UAH 997.72 million, probably taking into account the partial buyout of about 11% of VRI by the Ministry of Finance in August 2020.
VRI were issued as part of the restructuring of Ukraine’s public debt in 2015 instead of eurobonds for a nominal amount of about $3.239 billion (20% of the restructuring volume) and are not part of the country’s public debt. Payments under VRI are made annually in cash in U.S. dollars, depending on the growth dynamics of Ukraine’s real GDP in 2019-2038, but after two calendar years, that is, between 2021 and 2040.
If GDP growth for the year is below 3% or real GDP is less than $125.4 billion, then there will be no payments on securities. If the growth of real GDP is from 3% to 4%, the payment on securities will be 15% the value of the GDP growth between 3-4%, and if it is higher than 4%, then 40% of the value of the GDP growth above 4% is paid. In addition, payments are capped at 1% of GDP from 2021 to 2025. The absence of any restrictions on payments after 2025 in the event of rapid GDP growth has been criticized by individual politicians and experts within the country.
Quotations of VRI in December fluctuated within 90.7% -95.3% of the nominal value – one of the lowest levels in the past year. At the same time, as a result of the escalation of the situation around Ukraine and the sale of Ukrainian assets caused by it, the value of VRI decreased in January 2022 and dropped to 66.7% of the nominal value this week. This is the lowest level since the beginning of the summer of 2019, not counting the short dip in value at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, January 27, amid positive news, VRI rose by 9.4% to 73.5% of the nominal value.
Taking into account the quotes in December and the volume of expenditures made, it is possible to roughly estimate the volume of new purchases of VRI at about 5.7% of their total volume.
The growth of Ukraine’s GDP for 2021 is estimated by the National Bank of the country at 3%, which means no payments in 2023.