Lawmakers in Russia have proposed significant amendments to the digital ruble bill as it progresses through parliamentary hearings, introducing changes to debt operations, services for non-residents, and the role of the central bank.
Changes to Digital Ruble Bill
The committee on the financial market of the State Duma (Duma), responsible for preparing the digital ruble bill for its second reading, has put forward recommendations for modifying the original bill. Among the proposed amendments is a prohibition on the Bank of Russia’s participation in financing companies. Instead, the central bank would solely operate the digital ruble platform. Additionally, the amendments would require the central bank to protect the private data of customers employed by the federal security service.
The new draft also aims to facilitate easier access to the central bank digital currency (CBDC) platform for non-residents through foreign banks. These foreign banks would be allowed to join the platform, with non-residents facing no usage limitations.
One contentious provision in the current bill allows enforcement agencies to withdraw debtors’ funds without restrictions if the debtors hold sufficient digital rubles. However, the Duma’s legal department has expressed opposition to this provision, citing national laws that restrict the withdrawal of debtors’ funds beyond the minimum wage level, which amounts to approximately $195 per month.
Delays and Amendments
The digital ruble bill, known as bill number 270838-8, passed its first reading in March with the initial plan to enact it into law by April for launching a CBDC pilot. However, ongoing discussions and proposed amendments have caused a delay in the deadline. Interfax reports that subsequent readings of the bill are now expected to take place by the end of July.
In neighbouring Belarus, a pilot program for its own CBDC is being developed. The chairman of the national bank has announced that a decision regarding the issuance of a digital Belarussian ruble will be made by the end of the year.
As the digital ruble bill progresses through parliamentary hearings in Russia, lawmakers are actively considering amendments to ensure the smooth implementation of the central bank digital currency. The proposed changes address key areas such as debt operations, services for non-residents, and the role of the central bank, aiming to strike a balance between innovation and regulatory considerations. The bill’s subsequent readings will shed light on the final form of the digital ruble and its potential impact on the Russian financial landscape.