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Government ends 2008 with record finances

The federal government closed the 2008 budget with a surplus of SFr7.3 billion ($6.31 billion) despite the tough economic climate.

The finance ministry announced on Tuesday that the amount was SFr6.2 billion more than expected, a "crazy result", said Finance Minister Hans Rudolf Merz when presented with the figures.

The surplus came about largely thanks to total receipts soaring to SFr63.9 billion for 2008. That is an increase of ten per cent compared to the previous year.

A multibillion-franc rescue package for UBS still hit the country's coffers hard. Extraordinary expenditures added up to more than SFr11 billion, about twice as much as foreseen.

When those costs are factored in the bottom line showed a deficit of SFr3.6 billion.

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