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Lusa - Business News - Portugal: OECD trims 2019 growth forecast to 1.8%, now projects budget deficit

Lisbon, May 21, 2019 (Lusa) – The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is less optimistic than Portugal’s government about economic growth and budget deficit this year, revising its forecast for the former to 1.8% and the latter to 0.5%.
In its latest ‘Economic Outlook', released on Tuesday, the OECD forecasts that gross domestic product will this year swell by 1.8%, rather than by the 2.1% that it had been forecasting in November; the government is projecting 1.9% growth. For 2020, the OECD sees GDP growth of 1.9%, in line with its November forecast.
GDP growth is set to remain “stable” this year and next thanks to a continued rise in private consumption, steady growth in employment and, more recently, salary increases, it states.
The OECD anticipates an average jobless rate of 6.3% this year, down from the 6.4% it was estimating in November and below the government’s own forecast of 6.6%. In 2020, the report says, the rate should fall to 5.9% - again below the 6.3% projected by the government.
Growth in business investment is set to remain “robust", the OECD says, while export growth should slow against a backdrop of weakening economic activity in Portugal’s main trading partners, such as Spain, Germany and the UK.
According to the report, budgetary policy should support GDP growth this year and next, as temporary cuts in public sector wages have been reversed and public employment is growing again. Changes to tax and benefit policies should bolster the increase in disposable income.
Meanwhile, investment is set to be reinforced by greater absorption of European Union funds in the coming years.
The OECD describe as “fundamental” the revitalisation of public investment with projects with a high economic return, given the rapid ageing of Portugal’s population and slow productivity growth in the country.
On public sector finances, the OECD sees a budget deficit of 0.5% of GDP this year, the same as recorded in 2018, rather than the deficit of 0.2% that it was predicting in November, which was in line with the government’s current projection.
For 2020, the OECD now expects a deficit of 0.2% of GDP when in November it had anticipated a surplus of 0.1%. The government projects a surplus of 0.3% in 2020.
The risks, in the OECD’s view, include a tightening in financial conditions: it warns in particular that an increase in market interest rates could push up the costs of businesses and households and lead to an increase in the volume of non-performing loans on banks’ balance sheets.
On the positive side, it suggests that further improvements in the competitiveness of Portuguese exports could bring greater gains in market share.


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2019-05-22 09:22:47


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