PM says Spain ready to 'accelerate' economic reforms
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Saturday said the government was ready to "accelerate" economic reforms if necessary, following a week of deep concerns on the financial markets.
Zapatero added that he would not "deviate from austerity", a day after he ruled out an Irish-style rescue for Spain and markets cranked the country's debt risk premium up to record highs.
"If it is necessary to accelerate the reforms we will do it," he told reporters following a meeting with business leaders.
The government's economic policy, he said, was based on austerity, restructuring the financial system and structural reforms.
He said the government intended to pursue the structural reforms "as quickly as possible" in order to be "more productive and increase competitiveness."
The prospect of a costly rescue for Spain's economy, which is twice the size of that of Ireland, Greece and Portugal combined, has prompted widespread concern.
Investors are demanding increasingly high rates in return for taking the risk of buying Spanish debt, adding to the problems faced by Madrid in raising fresh cash.
Spain's economy was hard hit by a massive property bubble and the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, and it now suffers from an unemployment rate of about 20 percent, along with zero economic growth in the third quarter.
© 2010 AFP