Era of austerity hits Andalucia’s town halls

LAST UPDATED: 28 Mar, 2011 @ 09:41
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Era of austerity hits Andalucia’s town halls

THE mayor of Jaen has refused to take a pay cut as part of the Spanish government’s austerity measures.

Socialist Carmen Penalver has refused to impose Spanish PM Jose Luis Zapatero’s salary reductions on any of her town hall colleagues.

“These are nothing more than empty measures, it is merely a way of trying to look like the good guys of this debacle,” she explained.

“There are those who just want to look like the heroes, while others want to speak the truth.”

It came after Zapatero confirmed that his salary and those of senior cabinet ministers would be cut by 15 per cent.

But while others, such as Mijas mayor Antonio Sanchez, joined suit – his 13 PSOE councillors all took a voluntary 10 per cent pay cut – Penalver flatly refused.

The moves have thrown politicians around the region into the spotlight.

One, PP mayor of Fuengirola, Esperanza Ona has been criticised for owning three official cars.

Despite being entitled to one, Ona also boasts a Peugeot 707 and Volkswagen Passat – worth 150,000 euros, both paid for by the town hall.

The austerity measures announced by Zapatero to reduce spiralling government debt have also blocked town halls from entering any long-term credit deals.

The ban – lasting untill 2012 – will not come into effect until January next year. It came after figures revealed that Spain’s town halls were 28 billion euros in debt.

In particular, Andalucia’s councils owed 4.5 billion euros, with Malaga town hall alone owing 720 million euros.

Zapatero’s drastic cuts got the go-ahead in the closest of decisions.

In a knife-edge verdict, 169 voted in favour of the 15bn-euro package with 168 in opposition.

The proposal – which includes wage cuts of five per cent for civil servants and huge public investment cuts – was met with widespread criticism.

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