Spain revised its public deficit figure for 2012 higher on Wednesday to 6.98 percent of economic output from the 6.74 percent figure it posted last month, to comply with a request by the EU's statistics office regarding Madrid's calculations of tax refund claims. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government had promised the European Union that he would reduce Spain's public deficit to 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 from 9.4 percent of GDP the year before. Spain had previously accounted or tax refunds in its national accounts only after the tax office had approved payments but it will now include the amount of the refund demanded by taxpayers be counted in the year it is made, as requested by EU statistics office Eurostat, Spain's budget ministry said. "If the amounts to be refunded are in fact lower later, we will have to correct the accounting," the ministry noted in a statement. Spain will revise all of the public accounts figures it has published since 1995 using the method requested by Eurostat, the statement added. To slash its public deficit the government has put in place the deepest budget cuts since Spain returned to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, but the painful measures have prompted mass street protests. It has raised taxes, cut spending on education and health care and cut public workers' salaries as part of a plan to save 150 billion euros ($194 billion) between 2012 and 2014. When the government announced at the end of February that the public deficit for 2012 stood at 6.74 percent of economic output, it said no new austerity measures would be needed to rein in the public deficit. But the European Commission, the European Union's executive body, has recommended that Spain limit the number of goods and services that benefit from a lower sales tax rate and raise environmental taxes, especially on fuel. Spain is trying to cut its public deficit even as it struggles through a double-dip recession, having still to recover from the collapse of a decade-long property boom in 2008. The Spanish economy, the eurozone's fourth largest, contracted 1.4 percent last year, the second worst yearly slump since 1970, and the Bank of Spain predicted Tuesday that it will shrink by 1.5 percent this year before posting a "modest rebound" in 2014 with growth of 0.6 percent. The central bank forecasts that Spain will end 2013 with a public deficit equal to around 6.0 percent of the country's economic output, which is twice the limit laid down in the EU's Maastrict Treaty. The government has pledged to reduce the deficit to 4.5 percent of GDP in 2013 and to 2.8 percent in 2014.