MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s economic growth may have exceeded the 3.2 percent pace officially projected by the government for 2016, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said in a radio interview on Sunday.
De Guindos also said Spain would be looking to maintain its net debt issuance target for 2017 at around 35 billion euros ($37 billion).
A household spending revival, led by a turnaround in the job market, has helped Spain extend its recovery from a deep recession in spite of still high unemployment and political uncertainty.
De Guindos told Cadena Ser radio that economic output last year could have been above 2015 levels. The government’s official growth projection for both 2015 and 2016 is 3.2 percent.
“At this time the estimate we’re handling is that growth may have been higher in 2016 than in 2015,” De Guindos said.
He forecast that inflation, which rebounded sharply in December as global oil prices surged, would average around 1 percent in 2017.
Spain took 10 months to form a government in 2016 after two inconclusive elections, before conservative leader Mariano Rajoy was reinstated for a second term as prime minister in October.
With a weak minority in parliament, Rajoy is still wrangling with opposition parties over a budget plan for 2017 that would convince the EU that Spain can reach its deficit targets.
De Guindos said he believed the European Commission would not demand extra measures to reach a deficit goal of 3.1 percent of output in 2017 after the Spanish government outlined plans to hike some taxes. It aims to eliminate some tax breaks for companies and raise levies on alcohol, tobacco and sugared drinks.
($1 = 0.9512 euros)
Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Ruth Pitchford