The pandemic has led to the transformation of public investment in infrastructure: there has been a sharp increase in investments in digitalization (by 60% by 2019) and medicine (by 42%), according to InfraOne. Of the transport industries, road construction is doing the best, while the creation of railway infrastructure is constrained by the slow disbursement of funds. An important consequence of the pandemic, according to experts, was that it gave the state an excuse to shift the planning horizons of infrastructure projects to 2030.
The pandemic has led to a shift in focus in infrastructure investment, according to an analytical report from InfraOne. So, investments in federal projects for digitalization increased in 2020 by 60%, to 149 billion rubles. Analysts believe that these investments will remain at the level of 195-230 billion rubles. in year. They will go mainly to state systems, information security and the creation of a common infrastructure, so the need for private investments in this direction will remain.
Investments in medical infrastructure. In 2020, 161.6 billion rubles were spent from the budgets of all levels on infrastructure costs in the direction of “Healthcare” – 42.4% more than in 2019, and almost one and a half times more than on average in previous years. More than half of all funds (81.4 billion rubles) went to the development of inpatient and outpatient care, according to InfraOne, while the ambulance received only 0.1% of infrastructure costs (0.7 billion rubles).
At the same time, according to analysts, a real growth in the number of medical facilities and beds can be recorded only in 2022–2023, “ultra-fast construction, such as the complex of a new infectious diseases hospital in Kommunarka, is rather an exception.”
Also, the costs of educational infrastructure: by 11.7%, to 344.6 billion rubles.
IN transport In infrastructure, the focus has shifted to roads: according to InfraOne estimates, budget expenditures here increased by 11.7%, to 845.5 billion rubles, and in total, by 2025, it is planned to invest 3.75-4.15 trillion rubles in roads. According to the InfraOne baseline scenario, the main goals of the Safe and High-Quality Roads national project will be achieved ahead of schedule already in 2023: the most expensive concession project – the bridge across the Volga with a bypass of Togliatti, and the fourth bridge across the Ob in Novosibirsk, but the Moscow highway -Kazan-Yekaterinburg will have time to build only before Kazan.
In other segments, sharp growth is not observed: in railways, the state will focus on the second stage of expanding the Eastern landfill, “but the required rate of disbursement of funds (160-180 billion rubles annually) is twice the usual rate and may be constrained by the lack of construction capacity.”
In the baseline scenario of InfraOne, most of the second stage of the BAM and Transsib expansion will be implemented until 2025, three sections of the MCD will be launched on time, a concession agreement for the Moscow-Petersburg high-speed rail will be concluded, and although the Northern latitudinal railway will be built, it will be a couple of years late relative to the planned 2023 of the year.
Deputy Director General of IPEM Vladimir Savchuk notes that the roads are directly owned by the state, and the railways are owned by Russian Railways. The monopoly’s ability to invest is limited by its credit capabilities and tariff revenues, the expert explains, and “it would be good if the state took a greater part in financing railways, especially passenger projects.”
Investments in airports and seaports were particularly hard hit by the crisis.
According to InfraOne, the number of airports under reconstruction at the expense of the state will decrease from 66 to 58, the expenses on regional airports will be reduced in the next three years by 30% compared to the plans before the pandemic. And the federal project “Seaports of Russia” when adopting the budget for 2021–2023 was cut by more than half, to 65.5 billion rubles.
Total investments in infrastructure increased by 12.6% to almost 2.4 trillion rubles. At the same time, analysts note that not all changes in investment directions can be explained by a pandemic. The head of InfraOne Research, Alexandra Galaktionova, believes that the structure and dynamics of investments were seriously influenced by the change of government that took place in early 2020. But the pandemic spurred investments in “critical infrastructure” – mainly in health care and related facilities, telecoms, roads, the expert said, and “gave the authorities a reason to generally shift the planning horizons until 2030”.