Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that the economy was in good shape and was set to continue its prolonged spell of growth.
"Strong and strengthening", was the description he used the opening sentence of his tenth, and possibly last, Budget speech.
Independent economists, however, were not so sure.
They said the Chancellor's forecasts "erred on the side of complacency" after he predicted that gross domestic product would grow by about three per cent next year.
They also claimed that the rosy picture painted by the Chancellor was far too optimistic and medium-term fore-casts for growth and public finances were unlikely to be met.
The fact was there was little sign of a recovery in consumer spending in the UK and a looming economic downturn in the US could knock the growth predictions off course.
Mr Brown's Budget speech was delivered against a backdrop of growth of just two per cent in 2005 - the lowest level for ten years - and February's record borrowing levels.
Rocketing energy costs and a big downturn in consumer spending and confidence have been taking their toll.
And it emerged yesterday that members of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee were also divided on the future strength of domestic demand when they met to set interest rates earlier this month.
However, the committee broadly shared the Treasury's growth outlook for growth.
The warnings from the City came after Mr Brown stuck to growth forecasts made in December's pre-Budget report.
This meant that the UK economy should grow by 2-2.5 per cent this year, rising to 2.75- 3.25 per cent in 2007 - an achievement that Mr Brown said heralded an unprecedented period of stability since his first Budget in 1997.
He said inflation was on target at two per cent and long-term interest rates were "the lowest they have been for 40 years".
But Investec Securities economist Philip Shaw said Mr Brown's economic fore-casts for the medium term were "on the optimistic side".
He said: "We think growth will be closer to 2.5 per cent than three per cent and our view of the public finances is that we are going to see a slower improvement in the fiscal position."
And Angus McCrone, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said: "Gordon Brown's tenth Budget was long on crowd-pleasing initiatives but it was short on measures to safeguard the UK economy through the uncertain times ahead.
"In fact, the Chancellor's economic forecasts have erred on the side of complacency. Should world economic growth disappoint, then the danger is that this will impact on the Treasury's forecasts for UK GDP and the public finances."
Mr Brown conceded that previous forecasts for public finances would not be reached in the next two years but would be beaten from April 2007. He insisted that his key Golden Rule would be met by a margin of £16 billion.
But critics claimed that Mr Brown "shifted the goalposts" for the Golden Rule when he altered the dates of the economic cycle last year.
The Golden Rule dictates that the Government should only borrow to fund investment as opposed to day-to-day spending, and its success is measured by whether surpluses and deficits are balanced over the economic cycle.
Standard Chartered Bank economist Gavin Redknap said: "The Golden Rule has been changed so many times now that most of us who were interested in it have given up hope. He will meet a Golden Rule, but it may not be the same one."
Mr Redknap said that since the 2001 Budget Mr Brown had spent £92 billion more than he forecast and received almost £33 billion less in revenues than expected.
Mr Redknap warned that, if growth was weaker than the Chancellor predicted, the shortfall in revenues would grow - further upsetting the state of public finances.
The Chancellor upped his estimates for net borrowing from £34 billion to £36 billion for 2006-07. He also downgraded his budget deficit forecasts from £10.6 billion to £11 billion for this year and from £4 billion to £7 billion for the following 12 months.
But he predicted that borrowing would fall to £30 billion in 2007-08 and to £25 billion in 2008-09, while the public finances would return a surplus of £1 billion and £7 billion respectively.
Mr McCrone warned that, if GDP growth fell short of expectations in the coming years, Mr Brown's borrowing forecasts would not be met.
"Our view is public borrowing is likely to exceed these figures by at least £5 billion in each case, leaving the public finances with alarmingly little elbow room if this country has to deal with a shock from the world economy."