MADRID, March 28 Spain's public deficit as a
percentage of gross domestic product was 6.6 percent for 2013,
Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro said on Friday, slightly
higher than the official target of 6.5 percent.
The budget shortfall has come down from over 11 percent of
GDP a few years ago but remains one of the euro zone's largest
as Spain emerges from a deep recession and tackles the cost of
The central government's deficit was 5.5 percent of GDP,
while the country's 17 autonomous regions registered a joint
deficit of 1.5 percent. Town halls reported a surplus of 0.4
percent of GDP, Montoro said.
The final 2013 deficit figure will be lower after GDP is
recalculated as part of a trans-European attempt to better
harmonise economic data later this year, he said.
"The application of the new norms will bring the deficit
down to the point where we can say that Spain has met its target
in a year as difficult as 2013," Montoro said in a press
conference following the weekly cabinet meeting.
Spain's economy grew on a quarterly basis in the second half
of 2013, the first time in more than two years, lifted by strong
exports and less-negative domestic demand. The government
expects growth of 1 percent this year after the economy shrank
1.2 percent in 2013.
The public deficit was 6.8 percent in 2012 and the
Brussels-set deficit target for this year is 5.8 percent of GDP.
Montoro has said economic growth will generate sufficient
revenue to deflate the deficit to the target levels without new
tax hikes or spending cuts.
Spain has pledged to reduce its public shortfall to around 3
percent of GDP by 2016, implying some 35 billion euros ($48
billion) will have to be found in the three years from end-2013
to end-2016 to meet the target.
The EU commission forecasts Spain's public deficit will fall
to 5.8 percent this year, but rise again in 2015 to 6.5 percent
if the government does not extend higher income tax introduced
in 2012 as an emergency measure.
The 6.6 percent figure does not include aid granted to
Spain's banks, which included an EU-bailout programme worth 41.3
billion euros. Including the financial sector aid, the deficit
was 7.1 percent of GDP in 2013, Montoro said.
($1 = 0.7278 Euros)
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Writing by Paul Day)