LONDON, April 22 (Xinhua) -- The British budget deficit reached a record high in the fiscal year of 2009/2010 but was slightly better than the government had expected in March, data showed Thursday.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that public sector net borrowing totalled a record high of 152.84 billion pounds (236.2 billion U.S. dollars) in the last fiscal year ending in March, up from 86.91 billion pounds (134.3 billion dollars) in the 2008/2009 fiscal year. The deficit was equivalent to 10.87 percent of the British gross domestic product(GDP).
The government had predicted that the deficit of last fiscal year would reach 167 billion pounds (258.1 billion dollars).
The report also showed that government net borrowing in March rose to 23.498 billion pounds (36.3 billion dollars) from 20.060 billion pounds (31 billion dollars) in March of last year. March is typically a heavy-spending month as civil servants rush to use up funds before the end of the fiscal year.
This March recorded the highest monthly borrowing for the month since records began in 1993 and was just below private-sector economists' consensus forecast of 24 billion pounds (37.1 billion dollars).
The soaring government budget deficit is a hot topic in the election campaign for the next government and both the Labor Party and the Conservatives have pledged to cut the deficit within four years.