Finnish ruling coalition agrees 2024 budget with deficit set to rise

Parliament of Finland

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's ruling centre-right coalition has agreed on a 2024 budget bill that will see the government deficit widen 35% to 11.5 billion euros ($12.28 billion) next year, Finance Minister Riikka Purra said on Tuesday.

The coalition bill set out total spending of 87.9 billion euros next year, compared to the 80.5 billion euros originally estimated for 2023 in the previous Social Democrat-led government's last full budget.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, who took office in June vowing that his government would cut deficits, said the economic outlook had become increasingly gloomy.

"With the latest forecasts the economic situation has further worsened which will result in lower tax income in the future," Orpo told a news conference, adding that his government had taken decisions without which spending would have run even higher.

Weaker exports and a struggling construction sector will prolong Finland's economic downturn, the Bank of Finland estimated last week as lowered its 2024 growth forecast to 0.2% from the previously estimated 0.9% expansion.

($1 = 0.9366 euros)

(Reporting by Essi Lehto; editing by Niklas Pollard)