Spain shuns aid despite economy
Frankfurt - Spain will overcome its financial crisis without external aid and even emerge strengthened, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said in an interview published on Saturday.
He told the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung that the current year would be difficult, with lower growth and higher unemployment, "but we are laying the groundwork for a better 2013".
Madrid's ability to bring its strained finances under control caused new worries on Wednesday when its borrowing costs rose sharply at its first debt sale since a tough austerity budget last week.
The budget includes €27bn in tax increases and spending cuts aimed at slashing the public deficit to 5.3% of output this year from 8.5% in 2011.
Spain is racing to slash its public deficit to reassure markets that it will not follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in needing an international bailout after it missed its 6% public deficit target in 2011.
But the task is complicated by the fact that Spain is heading back into recession with the economy expected to shrink 1.7% this year and the unemployment rate to rise to 24.3%, according to government estimates.
De Guindos said priorities were a reform of the public sector, especially health and education, to reduce spending followed by liberalising trade and services.
The financial sector will see weaker components, including banks, disappear, he added.
"We will come out of this, even stronger, and without external aid," he proclaimed.
Meanwhile, the prime minister of neighbour Portugal, bailed out in May 2011, said he did not know if his government could return to the bond market in September 2013 but said the EU and International Monetary Fund would extend aid if necessary.
"That does not necessarily mean a second bailout," Pedro Passos Coelho told the German daily Die Welt. "I see no reason for that."
He said Lisbon was on the right track and reaching all its major targets.
Portugal's auction of 6- and 18-month treasury bills on Wednesday was considered a success, while the IMF said on Thursday the country was on track to meet its debt-rescue targets but still faces "formidable challenges".
The IMF said the EU might have to stand by promises of more support as the recession will likely deepen in the short term and unemployment, already higher than envisaged under the programme, is likely to rise further in the coming months.