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Latvian 2011 Deficit Narrows by More Than Half to 3.5% of GDP

Latvia’s budget deficit narrowed by more than half last year on the government’s spending cuts and tax increases.

The shortfall shrank to 3.5 percent of economic output from 8.2 percent in 2010, the Riga-based central statistics office said in a statement today, citing figures adjusted for European Union methodology. The general government deficit fell to 494.1 million lati ($927 million) last year from about 1 billion lati in 2010.

The Baltic country’s economy expanded 5.5 percent last year, bolstered by growth in exports and industrial production, after shrinking almost a quarter in 2008 and 2009. Latvia completed a 7.5 billion-euro ($9.8 billion) bailout from a group led by the International Monetary Fund and European Union, after passing tax increases and spending cuts of almost 18 percent of gross domestic product since the end of 2008.

The Finance Ministry expects the economy to expand about 2 percent this year with a budget deficit of 2.5 percent of GDP so it can meet criteria to adopt the euro in 2014.

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