Spanish President Pedro Sánchez told legislators in Congress on Wednesday that the worst of Spain’s COVID-19 epidemic is yet to come, while expressing optimism for an eventual economic recovery and pledging to support formation of a special congressional commission to investigate the coronavirus outbreak in Spain and his government’s handling of the crisis.
Speaking to a handful of lawmakers in a near-empty congressional chamber, Sánchez promised that his government would propose a revised 2020 budget of “social and economic reconstruction” for Spain, with the principal focus of the govenment’s future budgetary policy being “protection of (Spain’s) welfare state, the public sector and the protection of Spanish society and the economy”.
During his address, Sánchez conceded that COVID-19 epidemic had uncovered deficiencies in Spain’s public services sector and the ability of the national health service to respond to the crisis.
While defending Spain’s public healthcare system as something Spaniards should be proud of and as one of the best in the world, Sánchez said the system must be strengthened considerably going forward and agreed to formation of a congressional commission after the crisis to examine shortcomings in the healthcare system’s response and in his government’s handling of the crisis.
In the give-and-take debate over the coronavirus crisis, opposition leader Pablo Casado of the conservative Partido Popular offered his party’s full support to the government in dealing with the crisis, in contrast to sharp criticism of the Sánchez government in the early days of the outbreak. In similar fashion, Inés Arrimadas of the centre-right Ciudadanos party offered support for approval of the government’s 2020 budget as soon as possible.
Explaining the details of the “state of alarm” decree issued last weekend and the 200-billion-euro economic and social “shock plan” announced Tuesday to counter the coronavirus spread, Sánchez told legislators the his government foresees a deep recession in Spain but because Spain’s annual GDP economic output was healthy prior to the outbreak he remains optimistic that the economy will stage a quick recovery once the crisis passes.
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