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State Budget Deficit put at $2.7bn

The Finance Ministry puts this year's state budget deficit at 80 billion crowns ($2.7bn), while the Chamber of Deputies approved a deficit of 46.2 billion crowns ($1.5bn), the ministry said on Monday in its half-yearly report on the budget. The ministry expects that overall budget revenues will be exceeded by some 21.5 billion crowns, not by 35 billion crowns as it erroneously said in a press release, according to the ministry's Karel Bidlo. There will be also be a 13.5-billion crown shortfall in expenditures.

The two influences will raise this year's approved budget deficit by 35 billion crowns. The favourable first-half result, when the state budget ended with a deficit of just 0.9 billion crowns, cannot be overestimated, according to the ministry. "In contrast, it is necessary to expect a significant worsening during the second half of the year, which in the end will lead to the approved budget being exceeded," the ministry said. Overall revenues will be 13.5 billion crowns lower this year than planned. The reason is an expected 9-billion crown shortfall in VAT and excise duties, as well as lower non-tax revenues.

Revenues from freeing the Russian debt are several billion crowns lower because of the strong Czech crown in relation to the dollar. On the other hand, the ministry expects to exceed overall expenditures by some 21.5 billion crowns. Nearly 6 billion crowns more than planned will be paid in social benefits, of which 2.4 billion crowns will go on pensions and 1.1 billion crowns on unemployment benefits. By contrast, 2 billion crowns will be saved in other expenditures. Spending will also be another 17.5 billion crowns higher, including 12.1 billion crowns to cover the remaining losses of former Konsolidacni banka for 1999, 2.2 billion crowns on assistance to the Credit Union Insurance Fund, 0.6 billion crowns linked with the sending of the sixth field hospital to Afghanistan and 2.5 billion crowns for a bypass around the city of Plzen.

(NewsBase 03.vii.02)

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