The New Zealand government registered a cash budget deficit of NZ$7.88 billion in the nine months ended March 31, higher than NZ$6.09 billion forecast made in the pre-election update in October 2008, the Treasury said Wednesday.

The tax revenues totaled NZ$43.9 billion, about NZ$1.9 billion less than forecast. However, the expenses were NZ$146 million higher than expected at NZ$45 billion.

The Treasury said the tax variances will become increasingly negative through the 2008/09 fiscal year, as the continued deterioration in the world economic situation flows through to the New Zealand economy.

Tax receipts were NZ$1.42 billion lower than forecast at NZ$1.78 billion. Breakdown of numbers showed that sales tax receipts were NZ$427 million lower than forecast largely due to less-than-forecast private consumption and residential investment. This variance is expected to persist through the June quarter, the Treasury said.

The operating balance showed a deficit of NZ$7.7 billion, in contrast to the surplus of NZ$3.4 billion forecast made in the pre-election update. The main contributors to this result included lower than forecast tax revenue and higher than forecast investment losses.

The operating balance before gains and losses stood at NZ$233 million versus a NZ$1.91 billion surplus forecast for the period.

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