Switzerland to post budget deficits for 3 years

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Switzerland is expected to post public budget deficits for the next three years as the global recession bites into government finances, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

The country managed to post a small surplus equal to 0.4 percent of economy output for 2009 but the ministry noted that "the effects of the economic slump will become apparent only in 2010 and also in 2011.

"The subsequent recovery phase will likely extend for several years in all sectors," the ministry said in a statement.

The worst of the crisis would be felt in 2010, with a deficit of 1.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expected.

For 2011, the deficit is expected to shrink to 0.9 percent and then fall to 0.5 percent for 2012.

Gross debt is expected to remain at low levels, reaching 38.2 percent of GDP in 2010 and falling to 37.2 percent in 2011 and to 36.2 percent in 2012.

Swiss deficits and debt are very significantly lower than most European Union states which have in recent months been struggling to bring their public finances in line.

Greece for instance is trying to cut its public deficit to 8.1 percent this year from around 14 percent while Portugal is trying to bring its deficit down to 7.3 percent for 2010.

Under EU rules, member states are supposed to keep their public deficits below 3.0 percent of GDP and total debt below 60 percent.

© 2010 AFP

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