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Austria shocked by S&P downgrade

(Xinhua)

11:38, January 15, 2012

VIENNA, Jan 14 (Xinhua) -- The Austrian government and the economic community were shocked that Standard & Poor (S&P) cut Austria's long-term debt rating one level to AA+ with a negative outlook.

Speaking in an interview on the national station Oe1's "Morgenjournal" on Saturday, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said that Austria's economic data continued to be very good and S&P downgrading on Austria's sovereign debt was "wrong and incomprehensible."

Austrian vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger also expressed puzzlement on Austria's downgrade by S&P on the program.

But the two leaders admitted that it is necessary for Austria to limit debt increase and pursue established austerity policies. Faymann also stressed that "Austria has been on the correct road" after implementing measures of debt brake and balanced finance.

Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter was dissatisfied with S&P's cut on Austria's long-term debt rating and hinted that the agency suggests the entire Europe as a "mess" was a miscarriage of justice.

Fekter also said that the downgrading was a "yellow card" for Austria, which gave clear signals that high debt was just like the "Sword of Damocles" and the government and all opposition parties must act quickly and implement the reform package.

Speaking in an interview on Oe1's "Im Journal zu Gast", Austrian President Heinz Fischer said he was not surprised that S&P cut Austria's Triple A to AA+, but still unpleasant.

He believed that the downgrading could be an encouragement for efforts for Austria to strengthen the country's creditworthiness. Austria needs a "good and effective austerity package" and should not waste any more time, he said.

President of Austrian Chamber of Commerce Christoph Leitl admitted Saturday in a press release that Austria had poor performance in many areas relates to reforms, renewal willingness and capability, hence, Austria need to take measures quickly in order to restore investors' confidence.

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