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Finance Minister: Germany To Lower Deficit by 2005

German Finance Minister Hans Eichel said Thursday the federal government plans to push its deficit spending below the 3 percent cap specified in the pact ensuring the stability of the euro by 2005. However, he said, meeting that target requires that planned reforms are executed early enough that their economic effect can take hold. Additionally, economic growth must also meet forecasts set by the European Commission and the German government, he said. If those conditions are satisfied, Eichel said he would forecast a reduction in the deficit of 0.6 percent in 2004 and 0.5 percent in 2005, which would return Germany’s budget back within the legal parameters established within the euro zone.