Unexpected windfall leads to lower 2002 budget deficit
The discovery of extra revenue and lower costs at the year's end has allowed the government to unexpectedly cut its 2002 budget deficit. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday that year-end figures revealed a 2002 deficit totaling 45.7 billion crowns, or 1.5 billion dollars, far below the 62 billion crown deficit approved by parliament. The announcement came in the face of increased pressure from the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, which have criticised the government for failing to spend within its means. Last month parliament passed a 2003 budget with a record-high deficit of 111 billion crowns.