Portugal adopts hotly protested austerity budget

01.11.2012 18:30
Portugal adopts hotly protested austerity budget

YEREVAN, November 1. /ARKA/. The Portuguese parliament adopted on Wednesday a 2013 austerity budget that includes draconian tax increases required by international creditors, in the teeth of swelling street protests, France 24 reports.

The country's ruling centre-right coalition had the votes to push the budget through despite opposition from the Socialist and extreme left parties.

Several thousand people later gathered in front of parliament to protest the tax hikes, calling out "Shame!" and "Down with the traitors!"

The tax increases, which are aimed at curbing the swollen Portuguese public deficit, come as the country is already hit by a biting recession.

A general strike was also planned for November 14, coinciding with similar action in neighbouring Spain, under the slogan "Against Exploitation and Impoverishment."

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho is determined to cut Portugal's public deficit to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product next year from a target of 5.0 percent this year.

His government is seeking 5.3 billion euros ($6.9 billion) in savings, of which 80 percent was to come from tax rises. The average rate of income tax would rise from 9.8 percent to 13.2 percent.

In a speech on Tuesday the prime minister also pointed to a new approach in the longer term, saying that spending cuts had reached the limit of what was feasible and the entire role, responsibilities and architecture of the state had to be reformed.—0-

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