May 21, 2013 / 1:27 PM / 5 years ago

UK says on right track as IMF review nears

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government stood its ground on its approach to fixing the weak economy on Tuesday, a day before the International Monetary Fund is expected to call for a softening of its austerity push.

“Our view is that the economy is healing and we are on the right road, but we have to stick to it,” a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said.

Asked by a reporter at a daily briefing whether the government would change course if the IMF report is critical, the spokesman added: “The government believes it has the right economic approach.”

The IMF has previously supported British finance minister George Osborne’s focus on cutting a budget deficit that remains among the highest in the European Union.

But in April, top IMF officials including managing director Christine Lagarde said Britain’s economic weakness had lasted too long and it was time to consider a new approach.

Osborne hit back last month, saying he would not take on board recommendations from the IMF that he did not agree with. Since then there have been some signs the British economy is recovering, albeit at a painfully slow pace.

Osborne says he has already shown flexibility on policy by allowing a target for cutting the country’s debt to slip and announcing new measures to boost the housing market and lending to small and medium-sized companies.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths, writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Catherine Evans

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