• Kyodo News


Visiting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero tried Wednesday to allay investor concerns over his country’s fiscal health, saying his government has been implementing austerity measures and various structural reforms to secure economic growth.

Zapatero, who kicked off his three-day Japan visit Tuesday, told the Japan National Press Club that Spain aims to reduce its fiscal deficit, which amounted to about 11.2 percent of its gross domestic product in 2009, to 6 percent in 2011 and 3 percent in 2013 through cuts in civil servant wages, tax hikes and pension reforms.

“We have never thought of asking for support from the International Monetary Fund or European Union. Other EU states and global markets should regard it as fortunate that Spain maintains fiscal soundness,” he said.

He stressed that as a member of the 27-nation EU, Spain has been providing financial contributions to Greece, a fellow EU nation hit by a debt crisis, and that Spanish fiscal conditions are better than other European nations in terms of the amount of outstanding government bonds.

Zapatero also said the credibility of many Spanish banks was proved through the EU-wide “stress tests” to gauge capital health of financial institutions and that his government has no plan to inject public funds into the nation’s banking system.

Zapatero said Madrid intends to expand cooperation with Tokyo as his country needs more Japanese tourists and investment to boost its growth. Spain has also been promoting technological innovations and is eager to closely work with Japan in the area of science and technology, he said.

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