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Zapatero outlines economic plans

 Zapatero outlines economic plans
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Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been laying out his government’s plans to deal with the country’s sharp economic slowdown.

Government economists predict that under the impact of the credit crunch and high oil prices Spain’s economy will grow by less than two per cent this year, down from three point eight per cent last year.

Zapatero said: “Since the beginning of the crisis, the government has been working on a wide range of economic measures, across many different areas: first, to address the consequences for families of the rise in prices and mortgage interest rates; secondly, to support businesses and producers who are being worst affected by the slowdown in growth; and thirdly to speed up our structural reforms of the Spanish economy which will improve competitiveness in key sectors in order to promote growth.”

The bursting of the construction bubble has dramatically pushed up unemployment. The EU’s statistics office Eurostat said this week that Spain’s jobless rate is now 9.9% of the working population. It averaged 8.6% last year.

The figures for June show the number of people claiming jobless benefits rose by almost 37,000 to reach a total of 2.4 million. Many of those are from the building and housing-related sectors which at the end of last year accounted for 13% of all private-sector jobs.