ECONOMY

Andalusia and Catalonia to call on Rajoy for deficit flexibility

Regions warn essential services are at risk from deeper cuts

Spain's two biggest regions in terms of population and budget, Andalusia and Catalonia, are set to call on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to offer more flexibility when it comes to the spending cuts announced last week by the government.

The regions feel the 15.6 billion euros of savings demanded by Madrid will leave them without any room for maneuver, and say this will put essential services - such as education and health - at risk.

The Andalusian regional leadership is to call on the central government to distribute the adjustment in the regions' deficit in terms of each area's respective spending requirements, sources close to the regional leader, José Antonio Griñan, told EL PAÍS on Sunday.

In Catalonia, the deputy leader, Joana Ortega, pointed out on Sunday that the region has already spent a year making cutbacks in order to bring spending in line with European requirements, and that a more flexible approach to the deficit should not just be limited to the central government, which announced on Friday that it would aim for a deficit target of 5.8 percent of GDP this year, 1.4 points higher than the 4.4 percent goal previously agreed with Brussels.

In 2011, the vast majority of Spain's regional governments missed the deficit target of 1.3 percent imposed on them by the central government for the year.

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