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November 2 (SeeNews) - Albania's government anticipates a budget gap of 7.9% of projected gross domestic product (GDP) in its consolidated budget plan for 2008, higher than the 4.63% deficit target for this year, the Finance Ministry said on Friday.
The draft budget forecasts economic growth at 6.0% and 3.0% average annual inflation in 2008, the same as this year's targets, the draft budget showed.
Albania had 5.5% economic growth in 2006 and average inflation of 2.36%.
"The draft budget bill has already been approved by the government and is due to be tabled to parliament," Albania’s agricultural minister, Jemin Gjana, told SeeNews.
The budget plan expects the country's GDP to grow in nominal terms to 1,075.71 billion leks ($12.75 billion/8.8 billion euro) next year from 982.2 billion leks for this year. The GDP per capita is seen rising to $3,426 in 2008 from $3,153 in 2007.
Improved fiscal performance due to higher tax collections and the sale of fixed-line monopoly Albtelecom to a Turkish consortium for 120 million euro allowed Albania to cut its 2007 budget deficit target to 4.63% of GDP, from the initially planed 4.77%. An extra budget bill approved in July forecast also 28 billion leks in extra budget money earmarked for salaries and pension rises as well as to finance investments in priority sectors such as infrastructure, education and health care.
For 2008, the government projects 283.68 billion leks in revenue, up by 11.9% from 2007. The next year revenue is equal to 26.4% of GDP. Combined tax and customs duties revenue is seen at 195.71 billion leks, equalling 18.2% of the country's GDP.
Next year's budget spendings are estimated at 369.03 billion leks, 12.4% more than the current year. The next year spendings are estimated at 34.3% of GDP.
The current account deficit for 2008 is projected at 7.4% of GDP, versus 7.3% of GDP projected for this year.
The 2008 trade deficit is estimated at 20.1% of GDP, versus 20.6% of GDP targeted this year.
“We expect that an average increase in exports of between 11% and 13% per year will be seen as a trend in the next three years,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
Capital expenditures are planned at 105.5 billion leks and will be earmarked mostly for the infrastructure, health care and education sectors.
Albania's consolidated budget includes the budgets of the country's central and local governments and the independent budgets of social security and health insurance administrations.
Next year Albania plans to sell its 61% stake in the insurance company INSIG. It also hopes to complete the privatisation of the distribution arm of its power utility KESH by mid-2008.
On the government’s privatisation agenda remain also oil researcher, developer and producer Albpetrol; the state's sole refiner ARMO, insurance company INSIG and motor fuel dealer Petrolimpex.
(1 euro = 122.234 Albanian leks)
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