Sri Lanka passes 2013 budget, aims to cut deficit to 35-yr low

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 08, 2012 18:41 hrs

COLOMBO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's parliament on Saturday passed the 2013 budget by a 101-vote majority, giving the nod to reduce its fiscal deficit to a 35-year low of 5.8 percent of gross domestic products (GDP) and achieve an economic growth of 7.5 percent in 2013.

The budget was passed with 158 votes for against 57 in a 225-member legislature, which President Mahinda Rajapaksa' ruling party has a more than two-third majority.

The government aims to cut 2013 fiscal deficit to an ambitious 5.8 percent of the GDP, its lowest since 1978, from 6.2 percent this year, the level agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the terms of a $2.6 billion loan, which was fully disbursed in July.

The government and the IMF are in preliminary discussion for another loan after the completion of the loan, officials have said.

The island nation targets a 7.5 percent economic growth next year from this year's revised 6.8 percent. (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; editing by James Jukwey)

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