Zapatero says economy is facing "difficulties"
Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero admitted for the first time Thursday that the Spanish economy is facing "difficulties".8 February 2008
MADRID - Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero admitted for the first time Thursday that the Spanish economy is facing "difficulties" although he denied that the current slowdown in economic growth and recent increases in unemployment constitute a "crisis."
"We are not in an economic crisis. The Spanish economy has a magnificent base. We just have some difficulties from abroad," Zapatero said in an interview with Punto Radio.
The Socialist prime minister, who is seeking a second term in the 9 March general election, blamed the current slowdown on the "problems afflicting the US economy that have started to affect Europe and, consequently, Spain." He maintained that there is no reason to doubt that Spain will be able to meet its targets over the coming years, including reducing unemployment to less than 7 percent of the working population and maintaining an average rate of economic growth of 3 percent.
However, while Zapatero has sought to reassure the public, he has also take steps to limit the impact of the slowdown. Speaking at a conference in Bilbao on Wednesday night, the prime minister said he has instructed ministries with investment budgets to accelerate public spending on new infrastructure projects in an effort to absorb at least some of the workers being shed by the flagging construction sector following the end of a 10-year property boom.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]
Subject: Spanish news