Norwegian 2013 budget shows massive surplus

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16:23 CEST+02:00
Norway, oil rich and outside the eurozone, is set for a budget surplus of almost $44 billion next year, a draft budget showed on Monday, in contrast to budget strains elsewhere in Europe.

A text presented by the centre-left government anticipates a surplus of 249.5 billion kroner ($43.7 billion), including oil revenues which are typically held aside in a state pension fund.

Norwegian authorities plan however to dip into the fund to balance their books, though they are to withdraw just 3.3 percent of its total value, well below the 4.0-percent level allowed by law.

The government is treading a fine line between stimulus spending ahead of elections next year that are currently forecast to be close, and preventing the Norwegian economy from overheating.

Norway, rich in oil and gas reserves, is neither a member of the European Union, nor therefore of the smaller 17-nation eurozone.

It expects business activity to expand by 2.9 percent next year, in the wake of 3.7-percent growth in 2012.

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Unemployment is tipped to stand at 3.2 percent of the workforce in 2013, slightly stronger than this year's level of 3.1 percent, while inflation should edge up to 1.7 percent, from 1.3 percent this year.

"Despite a difficult global economic environment, the Norwegian economy continues to do well," Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen noted in a statement.

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