Rajoy pledges economic boost if ‘normalcy’ returns to Catalonia

4 December, 2017 12:00 AM printer

MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pledged Saturday that the country's economic growth could reach three percent next year, well ahead of forecasts, if Catalonia returns to "normalcy" after the region's secessionist drive.

At the height of the Catalan independence drive in mid-October, the central government in Madrid had lowered its 2018 growth forecast to 2.3 percent from 2.6 percent, a marked decline from the 3.1 percent expected for 2017, reports AFP.

"If we recover normalcy, stability and calm, this 2.3 percent growth will be three percent next year," Rajoy said at a meeting of his conservative Popular Party (PP) in Mataro, near Barcelona. Madrid has ordered new regional elections for Catalonia on December 21 after ousting the government of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and suspending the parliament over the independence bid.

International agencies including the IMF and the OECD have warned of the financial fallout of the crisis for the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

Catalonia generates about 20 percent of Spain's GDP, and tourism along with retail and new car sales slowed in October after the parliament's declaration of independence.