Spain's new finance minister urges banks to help

9th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

On her first day in office on Wednesday, Elena Salgado urges bank to help businesses and families, and says she will focus on creating jobs.

MADRID – Spain's new finance minister, Elena Salgado, appealed to banks on Wednesday to help businesses and families cope with the economic crisis.

Banks "must contribute strongly, but also rapidly to help overcome the problems that families are having, the self-employed, the small and medium-sized businesses" by providing loans, Elena Salgado said on her first full day in office on Wednesday.

Salgado replaced former EU economic commissioner Pedro Solbes as finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The 59-year-old, the first women to occupy the post, said she will make "every effort" to get the economy "back on the path of growth”.

"Our first efforts will be focused on creating jobs," she said.

Meanwhile, Solbes, one the key players in Zapatero administration's since 2004, said he had "mixed feelings" about leaving the government but felt "reasonably satisfied" with his work.

He told journalists that he planned to take some rest, but will remain a member of parliament.

Solbes, 66, who served as finance minister in the 1990s in a previous Socialist government, had indicated that he wanted to retire.

Zapatero said the reshuffle was necessary for a "change of rhythm" to tackle the economic crisis "with a new and stronger drive."

Spain entered into its first recession in 15 years at the end of 2008 as the global financial crisis worsened a correction that was already underway in the real estate sector, a key driver of growth.

The country's unemployment rate hit 15.5 percent in February, the highest level in the 27-nation European Union, and the Bank of Spain predicted Friday that it will reach 19.4 percent next year as the recession deepens.

AFP / Expatica

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