New British body set to publish key economic forecasts

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An independent body set up by Britain's new coalition government will publish its first economic forecasts Monday, it announced as finance minister George Osborne urged tough action to slash debt.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said Tuesday it would publish its forecasts at the start of next week ahead of an emergency budget on June 22 due from Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne.

"The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will publish its first, pre-Budget forecast for the economy and public finances at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) on Monday," it said.

"Alongside the Budget on 22 June, the OBR will present an updated forecast, which will take account of the policies the Chancellor announces in the Budget.

"It will also confirm whether, on the basis of those policies, the Chancellor has a more than 50 percent chance of meeting his target for fiscal policy," the statement added.

Addressing parliament on Tuesday, Osborne said Britain faced a "serious national challenge" in reducing its huge public deficit, adding that he wanted to involve the public in finding the best way of cutting the debt.

"After all, it is our collective national debt," he said.

New Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday said the state of Britain's finances was "even worse than we thought" as he warned of "painful" and unavoidable cuts to tackle the record deficit.

Britain chalked up a public deficit equal to 11.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the fiscal year to March 2010, one of the largest in the European Union and way above the EU limit of three percent.

© 2010 AFP

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