Government borrowed 5.4bn pounds in February

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT borrowed pounds 5.4bn last month to meet the shortfall between what it spends and raises in taxes, the Treasury said yesterday.

This was more than the City had expected, although the Chancellor was still able to reduce his forecast of borrowing for the financial year as a whole to pounds 35bn in the Budget. This is pounds 2bn lower than the estimate in the Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor also forecast a PSBR of pounds 50bn in the 1993/4 financial year. Most City analysts had expected the Chancellor to reaffirm the pounds 44bn projection in the Autumn Statement. The unexpectedly large forecast was badly received in the government debt market, where gilt prices fell.

The public sector borrowing requirement for the first 11 months of the financial year totalled pounds 27bn. This implies that the Treasury is expecting an pounds 8bn PSBR this month. The PSBR at the same stage last year was barely a quarter as large, at pounds 7.4bn.

Departmental spending in February was 15 per cent up on last February, while receipts were almost 10 per cent lower.

February's PSBR was flattered by pounds 400m in privatisation proceeds - early receipts from the final call on the sale of BT shares. Excluding privatisation proceeds, the PSBR in the first 11 months of 1992/3 was pounds 33.7bn, up from pounds 15.2bn in the same period last year.