British budget to kick-start growth: chancellor

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Britain's finance minister George Osborne said in a speech Saturday his forthcoming budget would be "unashamedly pro-growth, pro-enterprise".

The chancellor of the exchequer told the governing Conservative Party's spring conference in Cardiff that his March 23 package would include the setting up of "enterprise zones" across Britain to boost growth.

"In my budget in less than three weeks' time, we will confront the forces of stagnation that stand in the way of success; bring down the barriers that stop Britain getting back on its feet," Osborne told delegates.

"The budget is going to be unashamedly pro-growth, pro-enterprise and pro-aspiration.

"It will look at the planning delays, the new regulations, the bureaucracy and the costs that hold business back and stop jobs being created.

"Not just in London, or the southeast, but across Britain."

It was one of the "greatest scandals" of Labour's 13 years in power until 2010 that for every 10 private sector jobs created in southern England, just one had been created in the north and the Midlands, he added.

He said the enterprise zones -- a model used in the 1980s, which sparked the rise of London's Canary Wharf financial services district -- would be "centres for new businesses and new jobs where taxes will be even lower and more restrictions on growth removed."

And he insisted there was no alternative to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition's plans to slash Britain's record deficit, totalling around £155 billion ($250 billion, 180 billion euros), eliminating it in four years.

"We spend £120 million every day just paying the interest on the national debt," he said.

"Here is a truth universally acknowledged: every Labour government destroys our economy and brings us to the brink of bankruptcy."

He also hinted that a planned one-penny-above inflation rise in petrol tax might not go ahead, as the unrest in the Arab world pushes oil prices higher.

"When it costs £1.30 for a litre of petrol, £80 to fill up a family car, I know people feel squeezed," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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