Oct. 23 - Spain's Treasury Ministry says it is in line to meet its 2012 budget deficit target of 4.5% of GDP, as the government discussed the 2013 budget in parliament. Madrid sold 3.5 billion euros of debt in a bond auction, as investors await Spain's bailout request. Joanna Partridge reports.
These Spanish students and university employees say the government's austerity measures are ruining the education system. SOUNDBITE: PALOMA RAMIREZ, WORKER AT MADRID'S POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "This is leading to a poor quality semi-private or private university system, not the public service we expected." They came to protest near the parliament building, where the Spanish government discussed the 2013 budget. Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro said central government is very close to meeting its deficit target of 4.5% of GDP. SOUNDBITE: CRISTOBAL MONTORO, SPANISH TREASURY MINISTER, SAYING (Spanish): "We're getting out of this crisis with austerity and being cautious with public spending, without that we won't exit the crisis. And I'd like to tell the chamber that a policy of super-austerity could lead to a deeper recession." The government's figures don't include the transfers it made to Spain's struggling regions, to enable them to meet their debt repayments. On Tuesday, credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded five regions by one or two notches. Catalonia was one of those - it's economically important but deeply in debt. The downgrade of the regions added to investors' concerns about Spain. Many expected Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to wait until after Sunday's regional elections before seeking a sovereign bailout, which will enable the ECB to buy Spanish bonds. Despite his party's victory in his home region of Galicia, there's no decision yet says Bob Parker from Credit Suisse. SOUNDBITE: Bob Parker, Senior Adviser, Credit Suisse, saying (English): "We've probably got to wait another month until Spain asks for a sovereign bailout, and the format of that bailout. It may well not be called a bailout. The mechanism would be Spain applying to the ECB and the ESM to come in as a backstop buyer in Spanish sovereign bond markets." Spain was able to sell 3.5 billion euros of debt at a bond auction on Tuesday. But analysts expect yields to move higher - and stocks to move lower - as long as there's no bailout request.