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Minister for Public Works considers fuel surcharge

Source: El Pais - Thu 7th Jul 2011

Earlier this week Spain's Minister for Public Works, Josť Blanco, spoke of the possibility of raising certain taxes to pay for the upkeep and development of the country's transport infrastructure.

"This country needs to ask itself whether with our resources, and with the lowest tax burden in the EU, roads and trains and the welfare state can be maintained," Blanco said.

The minister's comments came in response to the association of medium-sized civil works constructors, AERCO, which has called for a fuel surcharge of between 3 to 5 cents per liter to cover the maintenance costs of the road network.

It costs two billion euros a year to maintain the country's roads, with just one truck causing as much wear and tear as 5,000 automobiles, while outlays on high-speed train lines amounts to 100,000 euros per kilometer a year - rising to 180,000 euros when the track runs through a tunnel.

The government has cut the department's budget as part of the the austerity measures.

The Minister acknowledged tha the idea of a rise in taxes would be unpopular, especially with a General Election on the horizon. "Infrastructure has to be looked at from an economic point of view. There is nothing worse than a port without traffic, an airport without airplanes and a train without passengers," he said.

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