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Rajoy blast Zapatero over today's drastic cuts

Wed 12th May 2010

Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the Opposition, has accused the president of the government of "doing away with social benefits" to reduce of public debt, and stating how that "everyone in Spain is going to pay for his incompetence", including expectant mothers and retirees.

He went onto to say how the situation "is something that wouldn't have happened if he had reacted in time" and if Zapatero had followed the PP's recommendations – continuing that it should not have been the EU that imposed measures to reduce "his" public debt.

Rajoy added that he had been accused by the government on previous occasions of wanting to reduce benefits, but that "the PP has never even contemplated what is being suggested today".

The Prime Minister today announced his intention to cut civil servants' salaries by up to 5% this year, and freeze them next year; to abolish the "baby cheque" for new mothers and to freeze pensions. In response, Rajoy says he could come up with a much better solution ‘this afternoon' that would not have involved cutting benefits.

Rajoy criticised Zapatero's knee-jerk reaction to EU demands to reduce the country's deficit, saying he had had to "improvise" and come up with a way of reducing public debt by 15 billion euros "in just three days", which contrasts wildly with his assurances only a week ago that there would be no "drastic" measures.

The initiatives proposed by the leader of the PP are, instead: the immediate eradication of the offices of the third vice-president and the Ministries of Equality and Housing; the integration of Education and Culture on one hand and Employment and Health on the other; a revision of grants and the elimination of all those that cannot be justified, along with the eradication of grants intended for business, trade union or political organisations.

Rajoy continued that the government's economic policies over the past few years had been punctuated by "errors, delays, improvisations and incompetence", which are now being "paid for by the Spanish people", on which basis the leader of the PP attributed exclusive blame for today's benefit cuts to Zapatero.

In summary, Rajoy said he "did not want to even think about what could have been saved in terms of debt, deficit, unemployment and loss of prestige if only he had accepted" the PP's advice, "when it was first offered".

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