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Big budget surplus expected this year

Switzerland's federal finances are back in the black, following stronger than expected economic growth. The finance ministry said there would be a "considerable" surplus for this year, rather than an expected deficit of SFr1.8 billion ($1 billion).

The ministry attributed the turnaround to unexpectedly fast economic growth of about three per cent this year, which led to higher tax income and faster debt repayments in the first three quarters.

It also said tight budgetary discipline had been maintained, so that expenditure was slightly lower than forecast.

The ministry added that it expected further exceptional income this year, when the new generation of mobile phone licences are auctioned in November. The government has decided to spend this income on debt-repayment.

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, described the expected surplus in a statement as "a welcome step towards the recovery of the heavily-indebted federal budget".

For several years, Switzerland has been cutting back spending, with the aim of balancing the budget by 2001.

swissinfo with agencies


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