OSLO Norway's 2014 budget, due just before a new government takes office in October, aims to keep a tight rein on spending, the prime minister told a newspaper on Thursday, potentially reinforcing his reputation as a strong manager of the economy.
The new budget, to be presented following parliamentary elections next month, will set spending at barely 3 percent of the accumulated oil money that Norway keeps in a $750 billion wealth fund, daily Dagens Naeringsliv said.
The government, which runs huge surpluses thanks to lucrative oil revenues, is allowed each year to spend up to 4 percent of the oil wealth but next year's budget targets spending 50 billion crowns ($8.4 billion) below the limit, Stoltenberg told the paper.
Spending is expected to total 3.3 percent of the fund in 2013.
Stoltenberg's ruling coalition, which also includes the Centre Party and the Socialist Left, is trailing the grouping of four centre-right parties that could form the next government, but the gap is narrowing ahead of the Sept 9 vote, polls showed on Thursday.
The next government would have very few opportunities to make meaningful budget changes before autumn 2014.
Norway, which is not part of the European Union, expects a budget surplus of 12 percent of GDP this year but stashes most of that money away in its oil fund, the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, using it as a sort of endowment, spending only its returns.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by John Stonestreet)