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Germany's 2013 budget slimmer than expected

The budget committee of the German parliament has come up with its final draft of the 2013 federal budget. New debt is less than expected, but opposition parties accuse the coalition of manipulating the stats.

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After 13 hours of negotiations that didn't finish until the early hours of Friday morning in Berlin, the parliamentary budget commission approved Germany's 2013 federal budget.

The plan, passed with the votes from Germany's two coalition parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Free Democrats (FDP), would create 17.1 billion euros ($21.8 billion) of new debt next year for a total of 302 billion euros in spending. The amount of new debt is 1.7 billion euros less than what had been proposed by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. The total budget is 200 million euros less.

"This display of strength enables the coalition to lower the amount of new deficit spending than what was in the plan put forward by the government," said the CDU's budget expert, Norbert Barthle. "This is an important step on the way toward a balanced budget and then a budget without any new debt."

Opposition parties however said the lowered amount of deficit spending was merely a case of perspective.

"The new overspending in this election-year budget can only be accomplished with the help of bookkeeping tricks," said the opposition Social Democrats' Carsten Schneider, referring to revenue from 2012 privatization sales that were put into the 2013 budget. "Finance Minister Schäuble would never accept such [tricks] in Greece."

Germany is scheduled to hold federal elections in 2013.

mz/hc (dpa, dapd, AFP)