Egypt trims 2009/10 budget deficit to 8.1 pct/GDP

Egypt's budget deficit in the fiscal year to June 2010 was narrower than first thought at 8.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the finance ministry said on Friday, boosted by the success of a new tax regime.

The ministry, whose initial estimate was 8.3 percent, gave no revenue figure but said the deficit was 98 billion Egyptian pounds. In July, the ministry said revenues were 269 billion pounds, down from 282.5 billion in 2008/09.

"The final figures for the 2009-10 budget have exceeded expectations," Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali said.

Egypt's economy, which was spared the worst of the global economic crisis that began in mid-2008, was buoyed last year by a resurgent tourism industry and Suez Canal receipts, along with resilient construction and gas exports.

Tax revenue in fiscal 2009/10 reached 170.5 billion Egyptian pounds, 7.3 billion more than in 2008/09, showing the success of new tax regulations, the ministry said.

It aims to keep the deficit at 7.9 percent of GDP this fiscal year, falling to between 3.0 and 3.5 percent in 2014/15, state news agency MENA quoted the minister as saying in July.

GDP grew at 5.1 percent in 2009/2010, up from 4.7 percent in 2008/09 but down from about 7 percent over each of the previous three years.

"All the goals of the public budget were achieved with focus on limiting the effects of the global financial crisis and keeping the social agenda intact, shrinking public debt and keeping it within safe limits," Boutros-Ghali said.

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