Spain’s budget minister has presented an optimistic assessment of the country’s economy, putting on a brave face over the latest gloomy figures.
Cristóbal Montoro was speaking to parliament where he outlined the budget for 2013 to MPs.
News that the Spanish economy has shrunk again has added to pressure on the government to seek more European aid.
The minister predicted that new measures would make a difference.
“It’s possible that next year will be the last year of economic recession in Spain, the year when we start creating jobs,” he said.
He also had this message for the opposition: “Stop saying something that is not true, that this budget is not socially oriented. On the contrary, it’s the most socially oriented ever under Spanish democracy.”
The right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy has launched a vast austerity programme to try to slash the budget deficit over three years.
The opposition strongly contested the minister’s interpretation.
“I would say that Montoro’s speech was a big lie, it was full of lies, it was a very deceitful budget, because the macroeconomic picture is being manipulated, it’s not true. Nobody believes it,” said Soraya Rodríguez of the Socialist Party.
After the budget speech there were quick signs of an angry reaction, in a country that has been in recession since late last year and where one in four is unemployed.
Protesters gathered near the parliament in Madrid, where security has been tightened in the aftermath of recent violence.