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British budget deficit narrows to 15.1 bln pounds in March


19:38, April 23, 2013

LONDON, April 23 (Xinhua) -- British public sector net borrowing, or budget deficit, stood at 15.1 billion pounds (about 23.1 billion U.S. dollars) in March 2013, which is 1.6 billion pounds lower than the same peroid of a year before, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in London Tuesday.

Tax income fell 5.7 percent in March from a year earlier, led by a 12-percent drop in income-tax receipts. Spending declined 4.7 percent, and net investment slided to 4.6 billion pounds from 7 billion pounds, said the ONS.

In the fiscal year that ended March, however, British budget deficit drop by 34.7 billion pounds from the year before to 86.2 billion pounds.

After removing the effects of the 28-billion-pound transfer of Royal Mail pension assets and the 6.4-billion-pounds of government bonds coupon from the Bank of England's asset purchase facility, public sector net borrowing is similar in level to last year's borrowing at 120.6 billion pounds, 0.3 billion pounds lower net borrowing than in 2011/12.

The British government sticks to the fiscal austerity plan since the coalitions came into power in 2010. But the government failed to reach its debt and deficit cut targets, due to the sluggish economic performance.

International credit rating agencies Moody's and Fitch downgraded Britain's triple-A sovereign credit rating by one notch in February and April respectively.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, suggest the British government to ease its pace of deficit reduction.

The ONS will release the 2.43-trillion-U.S. dollars economy's first quarter growth data, and figures this week are forecast to show Britain only narrowly avoided a third recession in five years. (1 pound = 1.53 U.S. dollars)

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