MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the government should consider investing money held in the larger of its two sovereign wealth funds in regional development and strategic projects.
Putin's comments, in an annual address to parliament, appeared to undermine efforts by Finance Minister Anton Siluanov to save Russia's windfall oil revenues as insurance against a possible oil-price collapse.
Putin said Russia "can think about" investing some of the funds in the $87 billion National Welfare Fund in developing Eastern Siberia and the Far East and part in strategic projects.
He called for a government decision this year.
But, departing from his prepared remarks, Putin told deputies that such investments should considered "very carefully". "Russia is a special case. To end up without reserves is very dangerous," Putin said.
Putin did not refer directly to Russia's Reserve Fund, the smaller of the two funds that was set up to provide fiscal insurance for the federal budget, which relies on oil and gas levies for half of its revenues.
The Reserve Fund is now worth 1.8 trillion roubles ($60.5 billion). The National Welfare Fund, which has been drawn on in the past to finance state pensions and buy shares in state-owned firms, holds 2.6 trillion roubles ($87.4 billion).
($1 = 29.7435 Russian roubles)
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin)
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