Swiss govt sees small budget surpluses for 2013, 2014

Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:18am EST

* 2013, 2014 surpluses seen at 0.2 pct, 0.5 pct of GDP

* Debt-to-GDP ratio seen falling to 33 pct by 2014

ZURICH Feb 28 (Reuters) - The Swiss government forecast on Thursday a small budget surplus for 2013 and 2014, allowing the state to gradually reduce its already low level of indebtedness.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement it expected a surplus of 0.3 percent of gross domestic product for 2012, slipping slightly to 0.2 percent this year before recovering to 0.5 percent in 2014 as the economy is expected to pick up.

Earlier on Thursday, data showed Swiss economic growth slowed to 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 but was still healthier than most analysts had predicted - and than the neighbouring euro zone - due to robust domestic consumption.

Public spending in Switzerland is kept in check by a so-called "debt brake", enacted in 2003, which forces the government to link spending with revenues and build up surpluses when economic growth is sound.

The ministry said the surpluses should allow Switzerland to gradually improve its debt-to-GDP ratio to about 33 percent by 2014 from 35.5 percent in 2011, already way below the average of 90 percent for the euro zone. (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alison Williams)

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