A series of positive economic facts and figures have emerged in recent days for Portugal. Unemployment dropped to just over 10 percent, sovereign debt sales were at pre-crisis levels while the economy posted growth last seen in 2007.
Tourism and exports were the driving force behind Portugal’s latest quarterly figures which showed the economy had expanded by 2.8 percent between January and March.
In response to these numbers, which even confounded the most optimistic forecasts by analysts, Prime Minister António Costa said they prove that “Portuguese confidence was not misplaced” and that government policies were in accordance with the needs of the economy.
The Prime Minister’s comments came after the consumer confidence index hit a 20-year high earlier this month.
António Costa added that the Socialist government’s anti-austerity policies have been vindicated by these latest figures which “did not hamper competitiveness, but actually reinforced cohesion and confidence, which are indispensible for growth.”
He added that there is every reason to be confident, but that “there was a whole year still ahead”, though figures have shown that the economy has been steadily improving since mid-2016.
President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has added to the chorus of praise and argued on Wednesday that the fact the country had auctioned 1.5 billion euros in six and 12-month debt ever-improving rates “confirmed the economic turn-around” and showed that the markets “are feeling (that Portugal) is financially sound”.
The Portuguese President said that “it was unthinkable one year, two, three, four years ago, that we could get money for six months or a year at such negative rates, this means that people are paying to hold Portuguese debt” he was quoted as saying by the Lusa News Agency.
The Economy Minister has meanwhile said Portugal should not rest on its laurels.
Manuel Caldeira Cabral reasoned that despite the fact that growth in the first quarter of 2017 had “exceeded all expectations,” more should be done to ensure the sustainability of future economic growth.
“The growth of the economy has accelerated in the last three quarters. It was important to give consumers more confidence, through restitution of income, but it is equally important to give investors more confidence. All of that combined has led to balanced growth,” the Minister explained.
The minister said it was necessary to “continue working” and that “growth in the next few years has to be achieved through innovation.”
“Only with more innovation can we ensure growth and a growth that can create better employment, with better salaries,” he concluded.