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POLITICS

Main parties close to deal on reducing public administration

Popular Party, Socialists looking to cap mayoral salaries

The ruling Popular Party and the main opposition Socialist Party are close to an agreement on slimming down part of the public administrations to eliminate overlapping responsibilities and reduce costs, insider sources said Tuesday.

The proposed Bases for Local Government Law plans to eliminate some 1,000 municipal associations that provide services to different town halls in the same area. Most of these are destined to disappear, particularly those not charged with clearly executive services.

The initiative also calls for a cap on the salaries of the mayors of large cities to levels similar to those of secretaries of state, which are 67,055 euros annually. Currently, 14 mayors of provincial capitals, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Zaragoza, earn salaries of around 100,000 euros a year when the head of the central government and his ministers receive 70,000. The legislation will also impose limitations on the wages of councilors.

The government believes the initiative could save some 3.5 billion euros a year by removing overlapping functions of different levels of government.

Municipalities have assumed a number of responsibilities that they are not adequately geared up to provide due to budget restrictions. The new law will categorize the services to be provided by local governments and will bar spending by mayors on services that do not come within their brief. Some functions may be carried out by provincial delegations of the central government.

Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba had proposed dismantling the provincial delegations, although under the latest reform in some cases their role will be reinforced.

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