Dutch deficit to exceed eurozone norm until 2014: official

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The Netherlands' deficit will exceed the eurozone three-percent threshold until 2014, an official forecast said Thursday, with the centre-right coalition government not expected to take further austerity measures in 2013.

The Dutch deficit will be 3.3 percent this year and 3.4 percent in 2014, according to the Central Statistic Bureau's (CBS) deficit prediction, used by the government to plan its budget. It hit 4.0 percent in 2012.

"These figures are not good," Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Dutch public television.

"They confirm what we've known for some time, that the country is going through a very difficult period."

Rutte nevertheless noted that the CBS predicted the Dutch economy would return to growth in 2014, increasing by 1.0 percent of gross domestic product, after a contraction of 0.5 percent in 2013.

Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, also the head of the Eurogroup, last year refused to speculate on possible further austerity measures as it became clear the deficit would exceed the discipline-driven European norm.

The head of the Labour party faction in parliament Diederik Samsom said it "would not be reasonable" to take further austerity measures, given the need to stimulate the Dutch economy.

Dijsselbloem has been holding talks with opposition parties on whether they would back possible austerity measures to be taken in 2014, including raising taxes and further budget cuts, to lower the deficit to below three percent.

© 2013 AFP

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