Spanish economy minister says he wants to stay on

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Pedro Solbes who is “comfortable and satisfied” as economy minister dismisses speculation that he will leave his post in a cabinet reshuffle.

MADRID – Spain's Economy Minister Pedro Solbes on Wednesday dismissed media speculation that he would leave his job in a cabinet reshuffle later this year, saying he wanted to stay on in the post.

"I have no desire to lose my job. I am comfortable and satisfied as economy minister," he told parliament in response to a question from a lawmaker from the conservative opposition Popular Party.

Spanish media close to the governing Socialist Party, including radio Cadena Ser, have reported that Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was considering a cabinet reshuffle which would see Solbes, 66, leave his post.

Solbes, who had already served as finance minister in the 1990s in a previous socialist government and also served as a European commissioner, has himself made comments which indicated he would like to leave the government.

When his cabinet colleague Mariano Fernando Bermejo resigned as justice minister in February, Solbes joked he was jealous.

Asked by reporters Tuesday if he was going to going to remain in the cabinet, Solbes replied: "Ask Zapatero".

Solbes has found himself a key target of opposition criticism since Spain entered into its first recession in 15 years at the end of last year which has saddled the country with the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.

His economic predictions have been blasted as overly optimistic.

In January the government predicted the Spanish economy, the fifth largest in Europe, would shrink by 1.6 percent this year but most economists foresee a much sharper contraction.

AFP / Expatica

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