UK finance minister Sunak sees promising signs after record GDP hit

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, wearing a face mask, places a sticker as he meets with local business people during a visit to Rothesay, in the Isle of Bute, Scotland, Britain, August 7, 2020. — Reuters pic
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, wearing a face mask, places a sticker as he meets with local business people during a visit to Rothesay, in the Isle of Bute, Scotland, Britain, August 7, 2020. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Aug 12 — British finance minister Rishi Sunak said there were some “promising signs” that the country’s economy was recovering from its record economic crash during the coronavirus lockdown which was announced earlier today.

Sunak said growth of 8.7 per cent in gross domestic product in June was encouraging, even as official data showed the economy contracted by 20.4 per cent in the second quarter as a whole.

Sunak told broadcasters there was too much uncertainty to know if Britain would have a swift, V-shaped economic recovery.

“What we do know is that there are promising signs,” he said. “There’s still work to do and even as we recover many people are going to lose their jobs, already have lost their jobs, and we need to make sure that we are constantly focused on providing new opportunities for those people.”

Sunak reiterated his opposition to extending the government’s huge job retention scheme which is due to expire at the end of October. Economists expect a sharp rise in unemployment as the state-funded jobs subsidies end.

Sunak also said he expected to see more people returning to their workplace in the coming weeks after the government recently changed its guidance.

On Brexit, he said good progress had been made in several areas of the negotiations for a trade deal with the European Union but there were gaps on “a couple of big issues.”

He said asking Brussels for an extension of Britain’s no-change transition period — which is due to expire on December 31 — was not the right thing to do and the government had to prepare for all eventualities. — Reuters

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