New British government must move quickly on debt: business

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British business leaders welcomed the new government under Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday, but warned it must put cutting the country's record public debt "at the top of the agenda".

Cameron's Conservatives pledged swift action to tackle the debt throughout the general election campaign, but is now serving in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who outlined different plans in their manifesto.

Britain's deficit stands at 163.4 billion pounds, or 11.6 percent of gross domestic product -- the highest level since World War II. It emerged from its worst recession on record at the end of last year.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Richard Lambert said it was "welcome news" that a new government had been formed after five days of talks.

"Business wants to see a stable government with the authority to take the tough decisions that will be required to keep the economic recovery on track and to get a grip on the fiscal deficit," Lambert said.

"This coalition should have the votes and the mandate to get on with the job.

"In the past few days, leaders of all three of the main political parties have emphasised their commitment to restoring fiscal stability in the national interest. That must be their overriding priority in the months to come."

Meanwhile, David Frost, head of the British Chambers of Commerce, said it wanted to see a "clear and achievable plan" for business growth within 90 days of the first administration.

"Fixing the public finances must be at the top of the agenda," he said.

"The Conservative-led coalition must be absolutely clear about where spending cuts will fall, and about the need to curb relentless growth in the size and cost of the public sector.

"They must also follow through on their promise to roll back the planned employer national insurance rise in any emergency budget".

The Conservatives have pledged an emergency budget within 50 days of taking power and in the election campaign promised to cancel a planned increase in national insurance contributions -- a tax which builds up entitlements to state benefits -- by employers.

© 2010 AFP

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