Brown defies critics of forecast

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The Independent Online
GORDON BROWN, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has defended his economic forecasts, insisting the economy will slow slightly next year and then recover quickly.

In an interview with the BBC, the Chancellor was responding to widespread criticism of his latest forecasts announced in the pre-Budget report to Parliament early last week. The Government predicted that the UK economy could grow by as much as 1.5 per cent in 1999 and by 2.75 per cent in 2000, prompting claims that Mr Brown's figures are too optimistic in the face of a global economic slowdown.

Mr Brown repeated that there was "no denial'' of the difficulties the economy faces in the next year, and said the slump in Asia and Japan represented a risk to his forecasts. However, he said Britain was "better placed'' to weather the slowdown than it had been in previous recessions because the Government had eliminated public borrowing and, by making the Bank of England independent, brought inflation down.