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Vienna, 16 October 2012 Fekter: "Stable finances through reforms. Growth through pro-active measures" Finance Minister Fekter presents 2013 Budget to Austrian National Assembly

"Our strategy to date has proved to be the right one. With the 2013 Budget, we will further consolidate the successes already achieved and further reduce both the Maastricht deficit and the structural deficit step by step," stressed Finance Minister Dr Maria Fekter in her second budget speech.

The 2013 Budget 2013 provides for a reduction in the general government Maastricht deficit – forecast at 3.1% of GDP in 2012 – to 2.3% of GDP in 2013, whereby the excessive deficit will be corrected in line with the recommendations of the European Commission. In 2013, the structural deficit will fall back to 1.2% of GDP. The government debt ratio will rise slightly in 2013, principally due to the additional measures being taken within the framework of the European government debt crisis, from a forecast level of 74.7% of GDP in 2012 to 75.4% of GDP, and from 2014 it will gradually fall again. "We are committed to austerity and will reduce the deficit further so that we once again have more room to manoeuvre in the future," assured Fekter.

Cornerstone of the 2013 Budget

We need a budget with the right focuses and framework conditions, and we have applied this also to the year 2013. We are driving forward investment in the areas of education, universities, research & development and infrastructure to boost growth and employment. In addition, we have consistently continued structural reforms in the areas of pensions, healthcare policy, public administration, public funding and the labour market, and will thereby achieve a largely balanced budget by 2016, thus reducing the debt ratio on a sustained basis," declared the Finance Minister.

The draft Budget Statement 2013 is based on the stabilization and growth package of spring 2012. This package comprises an expense-focused bundle of consolidation measures totalling EUR 27.8 billion (2012 – 2016). The long-term sustainability of public budgets is being secured through the debt brake at national-government level and the internal Austrian stability pact at federal level.

At the same time, through the 2013 Budget, performance budgeting will be established at national level. This means that, at all levels of the Budget, the resources respectively used will also be compared with the outcomes sought using such public funds by the individual ministries and budget managing bodies. Thus, both Austrian citizens and Parliament will for the first time be given an overview of budget funds and the outcomes thereby financed for the benefit of the population.

„I want to have an Austria where social peace prevails, prosperity flourishes and the people have a quality of life which makes their life especially worth living. These are the guiding principles of our policy," affirmed Fekter.

Increasing confidence

"I am aware that people's confidence in politics has been truly put to the test by the international financial and economic crisis. In order to restore this confidence, over the past few years we have already successfully adopted various packages, and the result is something to be proud of," declared Fekter optimistically.

Austria ranks among the EU's "top quartet" of countries achieving a macro-economic balance; "Intelligent regional economic policies, consistent budgetary discipline and investments secure Austria's superlative ranking at European and international level. Through the 2013 Budget, we are already creating the framework conditions so that Austrian can continue to rank in future among Europe's top countries," declared the Minister.

Driving reforms forward

Austria has withstood the crisis better than most of her neighbours. The Austrian economy is performing comparatively well in the context of a globally very unfavourable climate. For 2013, Fekter expects to see a slight upturn, with growth of 1%. "This puts us above the EU average, thanks to our rigorous consolidation path and the commitment of Austrian workers. We must continue on this path in future too, and I shall tread it with courage, creative drive, absolute consistency, sound judgement and balance – for the sake of prosperity, security and to ensure the confidence of the Austrian people in our country," concluded Minister Fekter.