Spain's Rajoy warns of tough year ahead

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Spain's Rajoy warns of tough year ahead

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More hardship was Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s key message as he addressed the nation after his first year in office.

Rajoy said, “A very hard year lies ahead for us, especially the first half, and we need to persevere with the reforms we have started. The Spanish economy will continue in recession for some time, but we hope the situation will improve in the second half of 2013”.

He also said he is not planning to ask for aid from the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme now, but could not rule it out in the future.

Meanwhile, Spain’s struggling flagship airline Iberia has been facing mass protests over its restructuring plan, which includes 4,500 job cuts. The company’s owner IAG, formed by Iberia’s merger which British Airways, has posted a 96 percent fall in nine-month operating profits.

A member of Iberia ground staff, Julia Pastor, believes the impact of the proposed cuts will be huge. “Spain is a country that lives on tourism, Iberia’s problem affects more than 4,500 workers, which is actually probably more like 6,000, and also a lot of indirect jobs around the airport,” she said.

Nationwide, unemployment is at a record high of 25 percent. Rajoy’s first year has been dogged by public opposition to his austerity measures, including a general strike in November.