Germany's finance minister says the government will come close to balancing its budget next year as economic growth outpaces public spending.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has been working toward a target of fully balancing its budget in 2016. On Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "must be our essential aim, because we have this obligation toward our children and grandchildren."

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble indicated in an article for the Tagesspiegel newspaper released Saturday that the government is ahead of target. He said the federal government expects a "near-balanced budget" in 2013.

Schaeuble said Germany's budget deficit will fall below 0.5 percent this year. Last year, it was 1 percent.

The country's healthy public finances have been helped by a robust economy that has produced increases in tax income.