LISBON Nov 16 Portugal's experiment with
austerity has failed, and the economy is in a worse state than
the government or the country's lenders realise, the head of its
main opposition party said on Friday.
Socialist party leader Antonio Jose Seguro also said he did
not think the country would meet its budget goals, rejecting a
planned 4 billion euros of spending cuts in 2013-14 as an attack
on the country's welfare state.
"The country is in a more serious situation than the
government and 'troika' (of lenders) realise," Seguro told
journalists. "There is a consensus in Portuguese society that
the austerity recipe has failed."
He said he made his view clear during a meeting with lender
representatives from the European Union and International
A cross-party consensus supporting the austerity imposed
under Portugal's bailout programme had differentiated the
country from other struggling euro zone countries was shattered
at the end of summer.
At that time the government, which has a solid majority in
parliament, upset the Socialists by pressing ahead with new tax
hikes to make up for falling revenues.
Portugal's economic situation is becoming more critical with
increasing signs of a deepening slump ahead of the introduction
of the greatest tax increases in living memory next year.
Workers staged a general strike this week and opposition to
austerity is rising.
The IMF and EU officials are in Portugal to carry out the
sixth review of the economy under a bailout.
"I don't blame the officials from the troika (for the
situation). I blame the political leaders of the institutions
that make up the troika, the European Commission, the ECB and
the IMF," Seguro said.