Australia's budget on track to return to surplus in 2012-13

15:54, September 24, 2010      

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Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said Friday the country is in a far better position than most comparable countries, and figures for 2009/10 fiscal year showed the budget was on track to return to surplus in 2012-13.

"We kept the economy strong, and of course now that growth has returned to above growth trend we're sticking to strict spending limits and strict fiscal rules," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

However, Swan has refused to speculate about a possible earlier- than-estimated budget surplus on the back of surging commodity prices, and the end of a long-running drought.

"We have put our forecast out there, we stick with our forecasts," he said.

The treasurer earlier revealed the final budget position for 2009/2010 financial year (July 2009-June 2010) was a deficit of 54. 8 billion dollars (52 billion U.S. dollars), 2.3 billion dollars ( 2.2 billion U.S. dollars) less than estimated in May.

The figures reveal modest improvements in the budget's position for this year and over the forward estimates. It showed a decrease of 2.6 billion dollars (2.5 billion U.S. dollars) in spending and lower cash receipts of 249 million dollars (236 million U.S. dollars).

Swan said the figures showed that the budget was hit by the "full force" of the global financial crisis in 2009-10, with revenues downgraded by almost 50 million dollars (47 million U.S. dollars).

"That crisis wiped 110 billion dollars (104 billion U.S. dollars) from budget revenues over five years," he said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey questioned how Swan could proudly face the public and announce the biggest budget deficit in dollar terms in modern Australian history.

"This is a government that is addicted to big spending, big deficits and big debt," Hockey said, adding the revised deficit was due mostly to reduced expenditure on demand-related programs, rather than prudent economic management," Hockey said in a statement on Friday.

"The variation between the outcomes and the forecasts shows again that Treasury forecasts cannot be taken as gospel."

Hockey said the likelihood of higher interest rates meant taxpayers would be paying for the "massive debt" as well as their mortgages, credit cards and small business loans.

"With other cost-of-living pressures also skyrocketing, Australians can rightly blame the (Prime Minister Julia) Gillard government for the financial pain," he said.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王千原雪)

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