IMF urges more reforms in Spain to keep up recovery

shutterstock_113872831 copy



Spain must make further efforts to reduce long-term unemployment and continue its budgetary adjustment process, the International Monetary Fund said, while noting that the nation’s economic recovery remains robust.
In its concluding statement after its assessment of the country’s economic performance, the Washington-based institution said Spain witnessed an “impressive recovery” helped by reforms, fiscal loosening and the European Central Bank’s unprecedented monetary stimulus. Despite the optimistic tone, it warned that vulnerabilities stemming from long-term unemployment, elevated public debt and low productivity remain.
“It is critical to reduce the remaining vulnerabilities and structural weaknesses,” the IMF said in a statement published on Tuesday. “Preserving the reform achievements is therefore of utmost importance but Spain needs to go further if it is to sustain the dynamic economic performance.”
The report comes as the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy moves to approve a budget for next year that can reduce the nation’s deficit while opposition groups reject further cuts in a highly fragmented parliament that would require a cross-party agreement. The IMF noted that carefully designed adjustment could be both growth- and job-friendly, while pointing out that there is scope to increase environmental duties and reduce loopholes in the tax system that can prop up revenue. On the expenditure side, the IMF sees room for more efficient reviews of how funds are spent in areas such as healthcare and education.
Serial deficit offender Rajoy is seeking to meet his budget reduction goal for the first time since arriving in office in 2011 after narrowly escaping a fine from the European Commission last year. The government is planning on raising close to 5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) from companies and by hiking taxes on items including alcohol and tobacco. While the government insists that will be enough to meet its deficit reduction goal for 2016, further adjustments may be needed next year.
“We’re not necessarily calling
for more austerity,” said Andrea Schaechter, head of the IMF mission for Spain in a press conference in Madrid after the report was released.
“We see most of the adjustment room coming from the revenue side,” she said. “For example by broadening the tax base, looking again at the number of exemptions, looking at those areas of VAT that are currently on a reduced tax regime.”

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend