G20 backs Britain's austerity drive: Osborne

23rd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The G20 industrial nations back Britain's massive spending cuts as the government tries to rein in a record budget deficit, finance minister George Osborne said Saturday.

Osborne said he had won strong support from fellow Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in South Korea for Britain's spending cuts, which are some of the toughest seen in the Western world following the global economic crisis.

"No one expressed any concern," the Conservative chancellor told reporters after a two-day meeting of G20 finance ministers in South Korea.

"Virtually everyone I spoke to expressed support for what I'd done," he said, after Britain's Labour opposition warned that the toughest spending cuts in decades would cripple one of Europe's biggest economies.

Osborne's harsh spending cuts have captured attention around the world, with the United States voicing concern before their unveiling about their effects on Britain's defence commitments, although these appear to have been allayed.

Voicing satisfaction at the G20 meeting intended to help rebalance the global economy, Osborne said the ministers' closing statement -- which included the need to rein in deficits -- was an endorsement of his approach.

"We've got a good endorsement here in the communique" released by the G20 ministers, Osborne said.

He insisted the government's tax policies would help foster a recovery in the private sector, even as critics complain that the budget cuts will entail massive job losses.

"I'm confident of the ability of the private sector to lead a private-sector recovery," he said.

Osborne also endorsed the G20's decision to reform the International Monetary Fund, giving more influence on its board of governors to China and other new economic powers.

"China is one of the big economic powerhouses of the world and it would be rather odd to have an IMF that didn't have China sitting not just at the top table but at one of the top seats of the top table," Osborne said.

© 2010 AFP

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