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ECONOMY

Spain’s inflation soars to 29-year high

Spanish inflation accelerated in November to its highest level in nearly three decades on the back of rising food and gas prices, official data showed Monday.

black friday spain
Black Friday sales can't disguise the fact for shoppers that life in Spain is getting increasingly expensive. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Consumer prices jumped by 5.6 percent, up from a 5.4 percent increase in October, according to preliminary figures from national statistics institute.

That is its fastest pace since September 1992, when the rate was 5.8 percent.

The surge in inflation in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy was due largely to a spike in food prices, followed by higher gas prices, the statistics office said.

Electricity costs, however, declined slightly after a month-long acceleration, it added.

As in other European Union nations, inflation in Spain has risen since the start of the year after consumer prices declined during most of 2020 due to the economic impact of pandemic lockdowns.

In October, eurozone inflation reached 4.1 percent, well above the European Central Bank’s target of two percent and equal to a high set in July 2008.

But the bank believes eurozone inflation will peak in November and is set to gradually slow next year as supply bottlenecks and the energy crunch ease, board member Isabel Schnabel said earlier this month.

Investors worry central banks will withdraw their stimulus measures sooner than expected to tame inflation.

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ECONOMY

Sweden’s new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Sweden, one of the world's biggest international donors, is planning drastic aid cuts in the coming years, the country's new right-wing government said in its budget bill presented on Tuesday.

Sweden's new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government said it planned to reduce the country’s international aid by 7.3 billion kronor ($673 million) in 2023, and by another 2.2 billion kronor in 2024.

That is around a 15-percent reduction from what had been planned by the previous left-wing government and means Sweden will abandon its foreign aid target of 1 percent of gross national income.

International aid for refugees will be capped at a maximum of eight percent of its aid, and will also be reduced.

According to the specialised site Donor Tracker, Sweden was the world’s eighth-biggest international aid donor in terms of absolute value last year, and the third-biggest in proportion to the size of its economy, donating 0.92 percent of its gross national income, behind Luxembourg and Norway.

The new government, which is backed for the first time by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, had announced in its government programme last month that it would be cutting foreign aid.

Since 1975, Stockholm has gone further than the UN’s recommendation of donating at least 0.7 percent of its wealth to development aid.

Despite its growth forecast being revised downwards — the economy is expected to shrink by 0.4 percent next year and grow by 2 percent in 2024 — the 2023 budget forecasts a surplus of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

It calls for an additional 40 billion kronor in spending, with rising envelopes for crime fighting and the building of new nuclear reactors, as well as a reduction in taxes on petrol and an increase in the defence budget.

The new government is a minority coalition made up of Kristersson’s conservative Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal party, backed in parliament by their key ally the Sweden Democrats to give them a majority.

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