Cabinet approves massive education and healthcare cuts

Welfare state trimmed by 10 billion euros Opposition parties snub Popular Party budget

The conservative Popular Party government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday announced education and healthcare cuts of 10 billion euros, the biggest assault on the welfare state since Spain returned to democratic ways.

The cutbacks come on top of savings of 27 billion euros in the 2012 state budget aimed at meeting the daunting challenge of reining back the deficit from 8.5 percent of GDP last year to 5.3 percent this year. Both education and healthcare are in the hands of the country’s 17 regions, which were largely responsible for the failure to meet the deficit goal last year of six percent of GDP.

The austerity drive will require retirees to pay for part of their prescription drugs for the first time. “This is a big sacrifice for pensioners,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría told a news conference after the regular Friday Cabinet meeting.

The government insists the cuts are the only way to sustain the social welfare system, whose defects it blamed on the previous administration. “This government will fix what the Socialist government destroyed,” Health Minister Ana Mato declared.

All of the opposition parties on Friday presented motions to return the entire 2012 state budget to the government for amendment. The PP has an absolute majority, however.


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