Britain unveils annual budget

March 21st, 2012 - 11:28 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 21 (IANS) British Finance Minister George Osborne Wednesday unveiled the budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal in parliament, announcing wide ranging tax reforms to reward work and support growth.

Osborne revised up Britain’s growth forecast this year by 0.1 percentage point to 0.8 percent, while cutting its forecast for next year to 2 percent, reports Xinhua.

Meanwhile, predictions for 2014 remained unchanged at 2.7 percent for 2014 and 3 percent for 2015 and 2016.

The consumer price index for this year has been raised to 2.8 percent, and that for next year has been revised down by 0.2 percentage point to 1.9 percent.

Osborne said the coalition government’s efforts to control its deficit remains on course, with the government borrowing forecast for 2011-2012 revised down to 126 billion pounds ($199 billion).

Britain’s unemployment is expected to peak this year at 8.7 percent before falling each year to 6.3 percent by 2016-2017. The government also pledged to create one million new jobs in five years.

To boost the economy, Osborne will cut corporation tax to 24 percent from April and further down to 22 percent by 2014. This is set to enhance capital allowances for businesses setting up operations in enterprise zones in Scotland and Wales.

Taxes for small firms with a turnover of up to 77,000 pounds will be simplified. The government plans to supports development with extra funds. It is also considering enterprise loans for young people to start their own business.

This is Osborne’s third budget since the coalition government took office in May 2010.

Osborne announced the relaxation of Sunday trading laws on eight Sundays during Olympics and Paralympics, starting July 22.

The Sunday Trading Act, enforced in 1994, stipulates that large shops over 280 sq meters in England and Wales are restricted to any six hours of continuous trading between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays.

If the relaxation is proved successful this summer, it may be turned into a permanent relaxation, media reports said, which described the move as a “pro-enterprise” budget aimed at boosting Britain’s economic recovery.

The government hopes hundreds of thousands of visitors to the London Olympics will take advantage of late-night shopping, boosting flagging retail figures.

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