The Austrian Federal government is striving to achieve a balanced national budget for 2002. In terms of budgetary distribution, it is assumed that the Länder (Federal states) will deliver a surplus of 0.75 percent of GDP, whereas the communities will arrive at a balanced budget. Accordingly, the Federal budget could then have a deficit margin of 0.75 percent of GDP. The budget proposed for 2002 meets this stability target. Current economic prospects, however, will not help to achieve the objective of a balanced budget. The Federal government attempts to meet its budgetary goal by raising additional (tax) revenues and by instituting savings on the expenditure side. Compared to 2000, the one-time effects on the revenue side of the 2002 budget are markedly lower, while at the same time the overall tax ratio is rising. Apart from ATS 1 billion, all of the additional revenues from taxation, which are estimated at about ATS 28 billion, will flow into Federal budget. At the same time, the Länder have raised their consolidation contribution to the Federal budget from ATS 2.29 billion (from 2001) to ATS 4.29 billion. Federal expenditures show substantial shifts due to budget consolidation. Altogether, both personnel expenses and transfers in the 2002 budget follow the original targets. The preliminary result for 2000 indicates that objectives were met, so that a solid foundation was built for the budgets for 2001 and 2002. The 2002 budget makes it clear that Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft is now investing a substantial part of the funds for construction and buildings which were formerly invested directly under the Federal budget. As a consequence, construction investment is noticeably lower in the Federal budget (at € 197 million in 2002, it is posted at more than 40 percent below the 2000 figure), whereas expenditure on rents has risen by almost € 400 million between 2000 and 2002. Other expenditure items similarly illustrate that the Federal government is increasingly outsourcing works and services to third parties rather than rendering them directly. Transfer payments are mostly within the scope of social expenditure. More than half of these payments are made to cover old-age pensions. At ATS 177.3 billion (€ 12.9 billion) in 2002, they will be 8.2 percent higher than in 2000. The greater part of this sum is used as Federal contribution to the statutory pension insurance scheme (including equalisation payments) and transfers to the equalisation funds held by the pension insurance institutions. Apart from covering old-age pensions, a substantial share of the transfer payments involves family subsidies. The new child-care benefit (payable as of 2002) will make for a considerable increase of this item. Taking into account the abolishing of the parental leave benefit, the new child-care benefit will call for another ATS 6.4 billion (€ 0.46 billion) by 2002. Two components on the expenditure side will make an important contribution to budget consolidation: interest on the national debt and transfer payments to other public bodies. Lower budget deficits will make for interest payments in 2002 at roughly the 2001 level. Payments to other territorial authorities and funds are budgeted at ATS 113.4 billion in 2002 (compared to ATS 113.2 billion in 2000), as a consequence of the Federal government's attempt to reduce its financing functions.
Bundesvoranschlag 2002 vom Ziel des "Nulldefizits" geprägt; Zero Deficit Puts its Stamp on 2002 Budget
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