October 29, 2017 / 7:16 PM / in 21 days

Germany to confirm size of expected budget surplus next month

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany expects a budget surplus in 2017, but will not know its full extent until Nov. 9 when the finance ministry gets a new assessment of expected tax revenues, acting Finance Minister Peter Altmaier told broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

A long-exposure picture shows a container ship, at a loading terminal, in the harbour of Hamburg, Germany April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Altmaier declined to confirm a report in Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday which projected a federal budget surplus of 14 billion euros ($16 billion), but said much of the information in the report was already evident several weeks ago.

Unlike most of the rest of the euro zone, Germany has run a budget surplus since 2014 and has faced calls from other countries to spend more on defense and other sectors.

The Finance Ministry had previously projected a flat budget this year, although German economic institutes said last month that Germany’s next coalition government could count on record budget surpluses over the next two years due to a solid economic upswing.

“We will get a new tax revenue assessment on Nov. 9. Only then will we know exactly what the government’s future revenues will be,” Altmaier told ARD.

He said it was clear that Germany’s budget was “in good shape” and that a surplus was likely. That meant a new coalition government would have some leeway to provide relief to taxpayers, he said, although he warned that its scope was not limitless.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to forge a new three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and environmental Greens, with each of the parties seeking to get its pet projects funded. Talks have snagged on disagreements about climate and immigration policy, but are due to continue this coming week.

Der Spiegel said this year’s projected surplus would allow the government to cover 7 billion euros in projected costs associated with a landmark nuclear waste deal and 6.7 billion euros in costs for migrants, without dipping into a 20-billion-euro reserve account set up at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Susan Fenton

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