December 31, 2018 / 8:44 AM / 6 months ago

Czech budget will end 2018 balanced, finance minister says

PRAGUE, Dec 31 (Reuters) - The Czech central state budget will be balanced at the end of the year, beating forecasts for a deficit of 50 billion crowns ($2.22 billion), Finance Minister Alena Schillerova said.

The budget has been boosted by a growing economy and unemployment at a two-decade low, increasing wages. The government, though, has faced criticism from some economists for running deficits and adding higher spending commitments to future budgets.

“We will be moving around zero,” Schillerova said on Czech Television on Friday evening, according to an article on the broadcaster’s website. “I will give the exact figure at a news conference on Jan. 3, but I can confirm that we are talking about a balanced state budget.”

She added investment spending rose this year.

The central budget - which makes up the bulk of the Czech Republic’s overall fiscal balance - ended 2017 with a deficit of 6 billion crowns, much lower than planned.

The lower house this month approved a 2019 central state budget with a deficit of 40 billion crowns. ($1 = 22.4830 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jason Hovet, editing by Larry King)

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