In 2024, the Ministry of Economy hopes to return to discussing the bill on bankruptcy reform, aimed at strengthening rehabilitation procedures, and also expects the adoption of a bill on pre-trial rehabilitation of debtors. As follows from the discussion at the All-Russian Debt Restructuring Forum, creditors are now already moving towards the rehabilitation of debtors, including government debtors, more actively than before, using the mechanism of installment payment of tax debts.
This year, the Ministry of Economy expects to resume discussion of the bill on reform of the bankruptcy institution, First Deputy Head of the Department Ilya Torosov said at the All-Russian Debt Restructuring Forum. Let us explain that the document, which was stuck in the State Duma more than two years ago, provides for large-scale changes to increase the chances of debtors to restore solvency, including through the introduction of a debt restructuring procedure (see Kommersant of May 18, 2021). Now the Ministry of Economy has softened its view on the possibility of adopting the project in parts – previously the department responded to proposals from deputies that it does not plan to divide it into independent initiatives, but now this is not ruled out.
The Ministry of Economy also expects the adoption by the end of the year of the draft law on pre-trial rehabilitation, which has been being developed since 2022. Rehabilitation agreements can be concluded between the debtor and creditors (including in court, if 75% of creditors are in favor) and provide for a deferment of the fulfillment of obligations and the possibility of the debtor entering into transactions that, in the event of bankruptcy, will not be disputed by creditors. While regulatory regulation is being developed, the Ministry of Economy expressed its intention to “accustom” the market to restructuring – in particular, the moratorium on bankruptcy that was in force from April to October 2022 should have contributed to this.
Note that in practice, lenders, especially large ones, already use the above mechanisms. This is due to the fact that in the event of bankruptcy, creditors usually receive a small portion of the debt. According to Fedresurs, in 2023 the number of corporate bankruptcies decreased by 18.2% compared to 2022 (when the moratorium was in effect), to 7.4 thousand—this is the minimum in nine years. To further stimulate restructuring, the Debt Restructuring Assistance Fund was created in September 2022, which acts as an intermediary between creditors and debtors, but so far there are few situations settled with its help (18 debtors with a debt of 12.7 billion rubles, another 62 applications for 61 billion are being considered RUB debts). Among the problems in general is the difficulty of finding investors for the rehabilitation of small and medium-sized businesses. As Natalya Medvedeva, deputy director of the Industrial Development Fund, noted at the forum, “for large banks this is a small business, labor costs are high, there is little effect, and there are practically no small banks left that are ready to work with an increased appetite for risk.”
State creditors have increased their activity in restructuring. In April 2022, the Federal Tax Service created a debt restructuring platform – during its operation, according to the deputy head of the service, Konstantin Chekmyshev, the debts of 3 thousand debtors were restructured for 198 billion rubles. by concluding amicable agreements and providing installment plans for up to three years (in 2020–2021 – 1.2 thousand taxpayers with debts of 111.9 billion rubles). This, according to Federal Tax Service estimates, made it possible to prevent every third bankruptcy, save 1 million jobs and 3.2 trillion rubles. assets, the effect for the budget is an increase of 47% in tax payments from the current activities of enterprises. In general, the Federal Tax Service notes a decrease in the number of debtors (from 45.1 million in 2022 to 33.3 million in 2023). According to Konstantin Chekmyshev, this is due to the introduction of a single tax account, thanks to which the number of erroneous payments decreased by 23 times and payments in general by 1.7 times; accordingly, the number of those who, due to the difficulties of settlements with the budget, “accidentally “became a debtor.