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Spain announces package of measures to reduce debt

12-02-2010 08:36 BJT

MADRID, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero announced Wednesday a package of measures to ease market worries about Spain's debt.

Zapatero said the government will stop paying 426 euros (558 U.S. dollars) per month in February to people whose unemployment benefits have expired.

Official statistics showed that there are more than 4 million unemployed people, or 20 percent of the working population, currently receive the vital financial package.

To reduce the government's debt, Zapatero said the government will also sell a 30-percent stake in its lottery business and partially privatize AENA, a state-owned company that runs airports in Madrid and Barcelona.

AENA will be privatized 49 percent, 19 percent more than the planned 30 percent, he said.

Under the government's whole package of measures, private companies and investors will be allowed to enter the public sector, something which had been previously prohibited in Spain.

The whole package will come into force when it is approved at the scheduled meeting of the Council of Ministers on Friday.

The EU economic bailout for Ireland has made many economic commentators believe that Spain and neighbor Portugal could be the next EU countries requiring financial assistance.

But the Spanish government has insisted that Spain is not like Ireland, though the Spanish stock market IBEX has suffered a record low in confidence in the country' s ability to tide over current financial difficulties.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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