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 new measures would make a difference.
“It is possible that next year will be the last year of economic recession in Spain, the year that we will start creating jobs,” he said.
“Stop saying something that is not true,” he told the opposition, “that this budget is not socially oriented… on the contrary, it’s the most socially oriented ever under Spanish democracy”.
The right-wing government has launched a vast austerity programme to try to slash the budget deficit over three years.
The socialist 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 in it,” said Soraya Rodríguez of the Socialist Party.
Spain is in its second recession in three years.
One in four people is out of work and job losses have continued.
Security around the parliament in Madrid has been tightened in anticipation of further anti-austerity protests, in the aftermath of recent violence.