| LONDON, April 11
LONDON, April 11 Finance minister George Osborne
held up Britain's recent strong pace of economic growth as
vindication of his austerity programme that came under fire from
the International Monetary Fund last year.
Osborne, who is attending the IMF's spring meetings in
Washington this week, said healthier banks and a credible plan
to fix public finances are essential to getting growth going
again after the financial crisis.
"In the UK, we have those conditions in place, and our
economy has grown faster than any other in the G7 over the last
year and is now forecast by the IMF to do the same in 2014," he
said in an excerpts of a speech he is due to deliver on Friday.
"This is despite warnings from some that our determined
pursuit of our economic plan made that impossible."
At its spring meetings last year, when Britain's economy
looked at risk of entering a triple dip recession, the IMF
urged Osborne to change tack and speed up spending as a way to
get growth going again.
Now, after 12 months in which the pace of Britain's economic
turnaround has surprised even the government, Osborne appears to
be relishing his return to Washington.
In his speech, he cited the strong pace of job creation in
Britain and signs of a pickup in business investment.
"All of this demonstrates that fiscal consolidation and
economic recovery go together, and undermines the pessimistic
prognosis that only further fiscal stimulus can drive
sustainable growth," he said. "Indeed, that is precisely the
wrong prescription for our economies."
Britain's economy looks set to grow by about 3 percent this
year, faster than any other major developed economy and a big
boost for the government - which faces national elections in
little over a year's time.
However, until its recent spurt, Britain struggled to throw
off the effects of the financial crisis and it is only expected
to recover its pre-2008 peak levels of output this year - a
level long surpassed by most other advanced economies.
In his speech, Osborne took aim at ideas made popular by
former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who has argued
that rich economies risk "secular stagnation" if they continue
to rely on super-low interest rates and instead governments
should aggressively invest now to spur growth.
"Instead of more debt or more government spending, we need
to get our public finances in order, make structural reforms and
compete in the world again," Osborne said.
The IMF this week said governments ought to be ready to step
in and provide stimulus for their economies via higher public
investment if their economies remained weak.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)