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Business

2004 Budget Deficit Less Than Thought

Germany's budget deficit for 2004 is expected to be far lower than forecast and fall below the record of €40 billion ($52 billion), a finance ministry spokesman said on Sunday. "There is a good chance" that the record reached in 1996 under conservative leader Helmut Kohl will not be beaten, the spokesman said, adding that official figures were not yet available but would be released on Friday. Germany, the euro zone's biggest but worst-performing economy, formally adopted late last year a supplementary budget containing an anticipated record deficit of more than €43.5 billion. The German press reported on Sunday that higher than forecast tax income in December, due in part to a fiscal amnesty on monies being held abroad, was behind the budget optimism.

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