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Portuguese report
by Euro Reporter
2013-08-28 10:01:38
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Portugal’s public debt rises to 131.4 pct of Gross Domestic Product

Portugal’s public debt totalled 214.57 billion Euros at the end of the first half of the year, which accounted for 131.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to figures published Thursday in Lisbon by the Bank of Portugal.

According to the central bank, public debt rose by 1.43 percent against the first quarter of the year, when it totalled 211.5 billion Euros. The latest evaluation from the three-way commission – European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – showed that at the end of 2013 the debt totalled 122.9 percent of GDP, or 202.1 billion Euros.

The figures showed that the country’s public debt continues to rise, from 123.8 percent of GDP in December 2012 to 127.1 percent in March and 131.4 percent in June, with the Bank of Portugal noting that the rising trend had occurred in all the sectors that were accounted.


Prisoners costing €40 a day

Each one of Portugal’s 14,268 prison inmates costs the Ministry of Justice €40.10 per day, according to data from the General Directorate of Reinsertion and Prison Services released at the weekend. That amounts to a daily total of around €572,000 and including human resource costs, the acquisition of food and other goods and services in addition to other current expenditure.

Of the total number of prisoners, 18.4% or 2,601 are awaiting trial with 545 inmates allowed out at weekends. The prison population, 81.4% Portuguese in national origin, has also risen from the 13,614 held in detention at the end of last year with a prison system occupation rate of 166.8% as of mid-August and again according to the General Directorate.

Over the course of last year, a total of 14 prison breaks were made, with 23 prisoners getting away of whom only four have not since been recaptured.


Portugal raises $1.34 billion amid recovery hopes

Portugal raised 1 billion Euros ($1.34 billion) in an auction of short-term debt Wednesday amid signs the country's deep recession has bottomed out, though investors remain wary of the political and economic risks of planned new austerity measures. The government debt agency said it sold 700 million Euros in 12-month Treasury bills at a cost of 1.619 percent, which was down from 1.72 percent at an equivalent auction last month. It also raised 300 million in 3-month bills at 0.766 percent, but that was slightly higher than 0.743 percent paid in April.

Portugal received a 78 billion-euro bailout in 2011 after the global financial crisis and a decade of low growth pushed it toward bankruptcy. The rescue deepened the debt crisis affecting the 17 countries that share the euro currency, though recent indicators suggest the outlook is improving. The Portuguese economy grew 1.1 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months. Before that, it had dropped for 10 consecutive quarters as spending cuts and tax increases enacted in return for the bailout took a toll on economic activity. At the same time, the jobless rate dropped to 16.4 percent from a record 17.7 percent in the first quarter.

Rui Barbara, an asset manager at Lisbon-based financial group Banco Carregosa, said the auction result was in line with secondary market rates and investor expectations as "everything is pointing to a stabilization" in the economy. Risks remain for Portugal's recovery, however, and the government expects GDP to contract by 2.3 percent this year before growing 0.6 percent in 2014. The country is still far from generating the kind of wealth needed to pay off its debts. The debt agency says it has already covered part of the 14 billion Euros it has to repay in 2014, but in the following two years around 32 billion Euros of repayments fall due. The centre-right coalition government almost collapsed last month as the two parties fell out over the scale of new austerity measures. Further political and social unrest is expected in coming months as the government prepares to cut another 4.7 billion Euros in expenditure.


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