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Germany

Eichel Could Surpass Debt Record

Wracking-up €37 million ($45.8 million) in new debt this year, German Finance Minister Hans Eichel is well on his way to surpassing the one-year debt increase record set by his predecessor, Theo Waigel. Waigel was responsible for new debt in the sum of €40 million in 1996. Originally, Eichel said new debt for 2004 would not exceed €29.3 million, however in the spring, he announced that figure would grow by an additional €10 million. Expected lower tax income -- which some estimate will drop by 10 percent -- was blamed by Eichel at the time of the announcement. However, it is not yet clear whether Eichel will, indeed, surpass the record: The government still intends to convert some bonds into cash, which could help plug holes in the budget.