The Budget deficit for this year could be dramatically cut by more than 70 per cent to about $10 billion mainly due to huge investment returns on the Land Fund. The deficit had been estimated in March last year at $36.5 billion. However, the deficit could be higher if tax revenues, which will be released on Wednesday, are lower than expected. The Land Fund investments doubled from the estimate of $11.65 billion to $22.75 billion. The rate of return on the Exchange Fund, which helped manage the Land Fund, has been greater than expected as a result of the government intervention in the stock market amid the Asian financial crisis in August 1998. The Exchange Fund has made billions in profit from selling part of the shares through the Tracker Fund. The rate of return of the Exchange Fund is understood to have been set at a rate of about six per cent, but the latest return is more than 10 per cent. Other revenue comes from savings in government spending and increases in land revenue. Savings of at least $10.7 billion and a windfall of $4.6 billion from the government fund accounts - which oversee daily operation, investment, government loans and capital works - have eased the deficit. Of the $10.7 billion saved, $7 billion came from the General Revenue Account, which involves expenses of routine operations. Of that $7 billion, $1.5 billion was saved in Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments; $4.5 billion from enhanced productivity; $600 million from property rates revenue originally allocated to the disbanded municipal councils and $400 million from pension savings as the number of civil servants who retired was lower than forecast. Making up the rest of the savings were loans offered by the Housing Society and to small and medium enterprises. These were $2.7 billion less than expected, while $1 billion was saved on capital works. On income, the land revenue was $3.13 billion more than estimated and other revenue came from the increases in stamp duty on stock transactions and increases in returns on investments. The revised figure for land revenue was $33.71 billion, compared to the original estimate of $30.58 billion.