PORTUGAL TARGETS A HISTORICALLY LOW DEFICIT IN 2019
Portugal's socialist government on Tuesday promised to achieve the lowest budget deficit in its history in 2019 while raising the pay of its civil servants and providing transport subsidies for families.
In its budget proposal, the government has set a deficit target of 0.2% of gross domestic product, (gdp), down from 0.7% expected this year, and hopes to achieve economic growth of 2.2%, just slightly lower than this year.
It also forecasts an unemployment rate of 6.3% next year, down from 6.9% in 2018.
"It is a good budget that follows the road we have traced so far, of more growth, more employment and more equality," said Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Twitter.
Portugal's economy has rebounded strongly over the past three years since the socialists came to power after the debt crisis in 2011, driven by a rebound in exports, increased foreign investment and a jump in tourism and real estate.
The government's 2019 budget proposal includes transportation subsidies for families living in the Lisbon and Porto regions, which are home to nearly half of the population in Portugal.
The plan also calls for unblocking career advancement for civil servants for the first time since 2009, with salary increases and promotions to follow. Retirement pensions are also expected to rise faster than inflation in 2019.
Portugal's debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to fall to 118.5% next year from 121.2% in 2018, the government's draft budget also shows.
The Minister of Finance Mario Centeno presented this draft budget to Parliament just before midnight on Monday. He is scheduled to hold a press conference on Tuesday morning to provide more details.
Moody's announced on Friday that it was raising Portugal's credit rating to Baa3 with a stable outlook.
Growth supports are strengthening and the external debt structure is improving, making Portugal's economy more resilient, the rating agency said.
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