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PM offers region 'unfair privileges'

Source: El Pais - Tue 8th Feb 2011

A number of regional politicians are furious about what they believe to be preferential treatment given to Catalonia, which is being allowed to increase it's borrowing at a time when other regions are being called upon to meet reduced targets.

El Pais today reported how the Mayor of Madrid referred to Zapatero as being 'discriminating', whilst objections were also raised by the socialist regions of Castilla-La Mancha and Aragon.

The Prime Minister agreed yesterday to allow Catalonia to issue more debt at a meeting with regional premier Artur Mas of the CiU Catalan nationalist group, despite the region's failure to hit its budget targets last year under Mas' Socialist predecessor. The premier of Castilla-La Mancha commented that all Spaniards are equal before the Constitution and that the government should "treat all regions in the same way and not give privileges to any of them."

The PP leader of Murcia, which has seen protests against cuts in social spending, requested an urgent meeting with Zapatero as was granted to Mas.

The mayor of Madrid, who was unsuccessful in persuading Zapatero to allow him to refinance debt this year, said: "There is clear discrimination against Madrileņos."

As with Catalonia, Madrid is also struggling to pay its debtors. The Mayor commented that Zapatero's snub to Madrid's refinancing request was motivated by "political reasons" rather than the government's desire to restore the country's finances.

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