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World Youth day costs 60 Million while Spain wrestles with debt

Tue 9th Aug 2011

The Pope's visit to Spain next week is being widely criticised at a time when the country is in the grip of painful austerity cuts.

The visit commences on the 18th of August where he will attend the Catholic Church's World Youth Day, which expects to attract over 1 Million follower to the capital.

Organisers of the event put the price tag of staging the event, not including security costs, at 50-60 million euros. This includes the cost of a 200-metre long stage at the Cuatro Vientos aerodrome where the pope will give mass on August 21st and decorating it with a giant metal tree.

It also pays hundreds of temporary water features and 20 giant screens at the aerodrome, and installing showers at the public schools that will be used to accommodate visitors from outside the city.

Organisers say 80% of the cost of the event will be financed by payments from those visiting the event, with the rest coming from donations by companies and individuals.

However critics argue that corporate sponsors are able to claim tax rebates of almost 80% of the amount they donate because the government has declared the event to be of "exceptional public interest".

Even a collective of 120 priests from Madrid's poorest parishes have criticised this loss of state revenues, especially since the government has slashed social spending and public worker salaries.

Those opposing the pope's visit have set up a Facebook page calling for a boycott of the 100-plus companies sponsoring the event, including Coca-Cola, Telefonica and Santander.

There are almost 150 separate groups who plan to protest against the visit on August 17 - the night before his arrival.

In addition to the disruption expected by these protests groups, the event also has to contended with 2 days of planned 24-Hour strikes by baggage handlers at the country's airports. Dates of the 18th and 26th of August have already been announced by Union officials.

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