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German budget surplus nearly twice as high as expected: Spiegel

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The German government can count on a larger-than-expected budget surplus of more than 10 billion euros (S$15.7 billion) in 2015, which will help Berlin meet the costs of an unprecedented refugee influx, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

[BERLIN] The German government can count on a larger-than-expected budget surplus of more than 10 billion euros (S$15.7 billion) in 2015, which will help Berlin meet the costs of an unprecedented refugee influx, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

The magazine said last year's budget surplus would be nearly twice the previously expected 6 billion euros.

A spokeswoman for the finance ministry declined either to confirm or deny the report, saying officials were still calculating the exact number. The final figure would probably be published next week, she added.

Germany is shouldering much of the burden of Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War Two, with over 1 million people having arrived in the country in 2015 alone.

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The DIW economic institute has estimated that state spending on refugees will rise from roughly six billion euros this year to 15 billion euros in 2016 and 17 billion euros in 2017.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition has already agreed to funnel all extra money from last year into a reserve to pay for the costs of accommodating and integrating the hundreds of thousands of refugees who were granted asylum.

A higher-than-expected budget surplus in 2015 could mean Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble finds it easier to maintain a balanced budget also in 2016, despite the ballooning costs of the refugee influx.

Germany's budget surplus is largely down to a rising tax intake. Record-high employment and high wages have boosted revenue from income tax, while strong private consumption has pushed up receipts from value-added tax.

REUTERS

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