* Socrates at EU summit Thursday despite resignation
* Minister says foreign aid bad for economy
(Adds quotes, details)
LISBON, March 24 Portugal's government will
continue rejecting an international bailout following Prime
Minister Jose Socrates' resignation tendered on Wednesday,
Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira said on Thursday.
"The government will continue to fight against the
possibility of resorting to foreign aid... Our position is clear
-- rejection of foreign aid," he told reporters after a cabinet
meeting, adding that the government did not consider a bailout
"Foreign aid would have very serious consequences for the
economy," he said.
Portuguese opposition parties refused to support the latest
package of austerity steps announced by the minority Socialist
government on March 11, forcing Socrates to resign on Wednesday.
Despite the resignation, Socrates is still attending a
two-day European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday and
Friday, and there has been speculation that he could ask for a
bailout there as Portuguese bond yields hit new euro lifetime
Socrates has been adamantly opposed to requesting aid and
the government intends to hold that line, at least until a new
government is formed, which is expected to take about two months
if a snap election is called.
Silva Pereira also said that the measures rejected by
parliament were mere proposals and did not represent a final
economic plan, thus the Portuguese state was not bound by those
measures despite having won Brussels' praise for them earlier.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she regretted the
rejection of the measures in parliament and urged the political
parties to stick to the goals of the country's fiscal
These goals include cutting the budget deficit to 4.6
percent of gross domestic product this year, to 3 percent in
2012 and to 2 percent 2013. The government has said the deficit
reached around 7 percent last year, below a target of 7.3
(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga, writing by Andrei Khalip;
Editing by Toby Chopra)
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