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Zapatero sees 2011-15 growth at 2.0-2.5%

Source: AFP - Tue 11th Jan 2011

The Spanish economy will grow by between 2.0 and 2.5 % between 2011 and 2015, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Tuesday during a speech to business leaders.

"The government is convinced that the efforts resulting from the wide array of reforms we are putting in place will contribute to bring our country's growth to close to its potential average level of around 2.0 to 2.5 % between 2011 and 2015," he said.

The Spanish economy, the European Union's fifth largest, slumped into recession during the second half of 2008 due to the global financial crisis and the collapse of the once-booming property market.

It emerged with tepid growth of just 0.1 % in the first quarter and 0.2 % in the second, but then stalled with zero percent growth in the third.

Last month Zapatero said the economy had returned to positive growth in the fourth quarter, without giving figures.

Among the reforms it has passed this year are changes to the labour code which cut the cost of firing workers and gave companies more flexibility to reduce working hours and staff levels in economic downturns in an effort to boost employment.

It also intends to reform the pensions system by raising the retirement age from 65 to 67.

In May 2010 Finance Minister Elena Salgado cut the government's forecast for economic growth in 2012 to 2.5 % from 2.9 % and to 2.7 % in 2013 from the 3.1 % previously forecast.

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