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Obama urges new cost-saving initiatives

US President Barack Obama on Saturday urged workers and business to come up with creative and wide-ranging ways to cut budgets and reduce costs ahead of a forum on government reform.

Speaking to Americans in his weekly radio address, the president said that people across the country know that "the best ideas often come from workers - not just management.

"That's why we'll establish a process through which every government worker can submit their ideas for how their agency can save money and perform better," Obama pointed out. "We'll put the suggestions that work into practice."

The president also promised to reach beyond the halls of government and tap the experience of private businesses that have invented innovative ways of using technology to save money.

He announced that later this year, he will host a forum on reforming government so that government officials could hear voices from outside of Washington.

The comments came after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecast last month the budget deficit could hit 1.845 trillion dollars for the whole year based on Obama's 3.5-trillion-dollar budget plan approved by Congress early this month.

The CBO said its budget deficit estimate for fiscal 2009, which ends on September 30, would be four times the 2008 record shortfall and amount to 13.1 percent of the country's total economic output.

The Obama budget forecasts a 1.750 trillion dollar deficit in fiscal 2009, but foresees that figure falling to 1.171 trillion dollars in 2010.

"We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children's future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency," Obama said. "I will work every single day that I am president to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that it is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people."

During his debut cabinet meeting last Monday, Obama ordered his government to cut 100 million dollars from the US federal budget within 90 days, with an eye on the ballooning deficit.

In the radio address, Obama also urged Congress to adopt a pay-as-you-go principle that requires lawmakers to offset any new spending by equal budget cuts.

This principle, the president said, "helped transform large deficits into surpluses in the 1990s.

"Now, we must restore that sense of fiscal discipline," he added.

Obama also urged government agencies to create new incentives to reduce wasteful spending and invest in what works.

He said that agencies that identify savings will be allowed to keep a portion of those savings to invest in programs that work.

"The result will be a smaller budget, and a more effective government," the president assured.

Copyright 2009 AFP American Edition
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Publication:AFP American Edition
Date:Apr 25, 2009
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