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Spain unveils 83-bln-euro plan to boost industry

The Spanish government Friday announced an 83-billion-euro investment plan for 2011-2015 to make industry “the engine of growth and job creation” while maintaining its deficit reduction goals.

The plan “contains 124 initiatives for 10 ministries in 26 fields linked to industry, with a direct budgetary impact of almost 83 billion euros over the period 2011-2015,” the industry ministry said in a statement.

The figure includes “budgetary programmes, tax benefits and credit lines for public institutions.”

The investment is “compatible with the commitment to reduce the deficit undertaken by the government with the European Union.”

The government this year introduced tough austerity measures in a bid to slash its soaring public deficit, including pay cuts for civil servants.

It aims to rein in the deficit from 11.1 percent of gross domestic product last year, the third highest in the eurozone after Greece and Ireland, to 3.0 percent — the EU limit — by 2013.

The programme announced Friday is aimed at making industry an “engine of growth and job creation” through an “improvement in competivity” but also through research and development and more support for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Among the strategic sectors targeted are those of automobiles, aerospace, biotechnology, health technologies and pharmaceuticals, information technology, protection of the environmnet and renewable energy.

The government has said that industry makes up just 15.1 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, less than the European average of 17.7 percent.

The Spanish economy slumped into recession in late 2008 due to the bursting of a decade-long property bubble and the global financial meltdown.

It emerged with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of this year and 0.2 percent in the second but then slipped back to zero percent in the third.