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Spain warns over deficit goal amid new protests

Published on Dec 3, 2012 6:03 AM
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gives a press conference at the EU Headquarters, on Nov 23, 2012 in Brussels, after a two-day European Union leaders summit called to agree a hotly-contested trillion-euro budget through 2020. -- PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy admitted on Sunday it would be difficult for the government to meet its deficit reduction targets despite a raft of austerity measures, as thousands of disabled people staged a noisy protest over cuts to their benefits.

"It is very complicated to reduce the deficit by 2.6 points in a context of recession, with as many problems with revenue and such high financing costs," Mr Rajoy said in an interview published in La Razon newspaper.

"Spain was asked to make a very difficult effort, to go from 8.9 per cent to 6.3 per cent in only one year," said Mr Rajoy, who has until now pledged to respect the public deficit target called for by the European Union.

"Our goal is to do things well and we will see what will happen at the end of the year," he said. Spain, the fourth-largest economy in the euro zone, is engaged in a deep austerity programme and is seeking to recover 150 billion euros (S$237.9 billion) between 2012 and 2014, through both tax increases and budget cuts.

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