The Spanish parliament has adopted a 39-billion-euro (52-billion-US dollar) austerity package as the debt-ridden eurozone country battles to reduce its budget deficit.
On Thursday, the lawmakers voted for the cuts in the 2013 budget, which slashes spending for health care and education, and reduces pensions among other tough measures, AFP reported.
On Tuesday, Prime Minster Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government said the imposition of the austerity measures is necessary for the country to meet its tough deficit targets.
As the lawmakers gathered to pass the next year’s budget, angry demonstrators massed near the lower house of parliament to show their opposition to the unpopular austerity plan, which they referred to as “a budget of hunger and misery.”
The Spanish government has also been sharply criticized over the austerity measures that are hitting the middle and working classes the hardest.
Public protests have grown in the country over speculation that the government will seek a Greek-style European bailout to keep its borrowing costs in check.
The eurozone’s fourth-largest economy must lower the deficit to 6.3 percent in 2012, 4.5 percent in 2013, and 2.8 percent in 2014. Economists, however, say those targets will be difficult to meet amid poor prospects for the country’s economic recovery.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs.
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