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LONDON: British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said there had been a deterioration in the economic forecasts on which he is basing the annual budget statement that he will give this week, and he played down speculation over big pre-election tax cuts.

The forecasts produced by Britain’s official budget watchdog “have gone against us,” Hunt told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper in an interview. “We don’t have as much of a positive outlook as we had at the end of the Autumn Statement,” he said, referring to a budget update last November.

“So it’s going to be a budget where we stress the progress we’ve made on bringing down inflation, but also the importance of being responsible with the country’s finances.”

UK’s Hunt says he hopes to reverse public investment freeze

Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are under pressure from within their Conservative Party to cut taxes in Wednesday’s budget to help the party’s flagging fortunes before a national election expected later this year.

Hunt told the Sunday Telegraph that a tax cut which is funded by borrowing was “not a real tax cut” but his budget would “show people a direction of travel”.

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