* Plan to raise 27-30 bln euros in 2012 still intact-debt
* Fiscal package aims to balance budget by 2016
* Auction of 2022 bond top-up goes smoothly
(Adds quotes and background)
By Michael Shields
VIENNA, March 6 Austria's fiscal
consolidation programme that aims to balance the budget by 2016
will not alter the country's borrowing plans this year, the head
of the national debt office told Reuters.
The government approved and sent to parliament on Tuesday a
package of spending curbs and tax hikes aimed at raising nearly
28 billion euros ($37 billion), which officials hope will
convince financial markets of Austria's fiscal stability.
Austria has said it intends to issue 20 billion to 24
billion euros worth of bonds in 2012. It plans to boost total
borrowing this year via all instruments to 27-30 billion euros
from around 21 billion last year.
"In my view there is no need as of today to make changes.
The range of 27 to 30 (billion) is still valid," Martha
Oberndorfer, head of the Austrian Federal Financing Agency, said
in a telephone interview after a successful bond tender.
The government expects the state budget deficit as measured
by the European Union's Maastricht criteria to narrow to 3.0
percent of gross domestic product this year. State debt is set
to peak at 74.7 percent of GDP in 2013.
To help handle the costs of rescuing ailing lender
Volksbanken AG, the volume of the consolidation
package rose by more than 1 billion euros from an initial
version unveiled in February.
The drive reflects Austria's campaign to put the euro zone
debt crisis behind it after Standard & Poor's stripped the
country of its AAA rating and assigned it a negative outlook in
Moody's has also threatened to downgrade Austria and other
Ratings agencies have expressed concern about Austria's
exposure to its relatively large banking sector, its economic
ties with struggling neighbours Hungary and Italy, and wider
worries about management of the euro zone debt crisis.
Oberndorfer said Tuesday's auction of a reopened 2022 bond
showed that the country remained attractive for investors.
It sold 1 billion euros of the bond at an average yield of
2.89 percent, down half a percentage point since the bond was
launched a month and a half ago, Oberndorfer noted.
Austrian 10-year bond spreads have been 100 basis points
over benchmark German Bunds of late, which has proven to be an
attractive level for buyers, she added.
Austria is also able to place treasury bills with investors
at close to zero percent, she said, although it has not been
especially active in the money market recently.
Oberndorfer said the European Central Bank's second tender
of cheap three-year funds had helped calm markets.
"You certainly have seen that confidence in the government
bond market in general and above all for the periphery countries
has clearly risen," she said.
($1 = 0.7557 euros)
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)