By Wendy Williams
THE black hole of debt in Andalucia is being blamed for much of Spain’s economic woes.
It comes as EU inspectors demand answers on how Spain intends to reign in its regional spending.
Andalucia – the biggest region – could be in debt by as much as 3.3 billion, but senior government figures admit they do not know for sure.
Antonio Beteta, the secretary of state for public affairs, claimed Andalucia was cooking its books and hiding unpaid bills.
“Andalucia is not being transparent,” he said. “There is a problem of both transparency and credibility.”
However officials in Andalucia were outraged by the accusations and have insisted the EU inspectors come to the region to look at the accounts.
“They are not opaque and there is no hidden deficit,” the region’s finance boss Carmen Martinez insisted.
The 17 regional governments currently spend almost four out of every 10 euros of Spain’s public money and last year, despite pledges of austerity, the regions failed to cut their joint deficit by a single euro.
On top of this many owe billions of euros to street cleaners and health workers.
In some Andalucian towns such as Jerez – which is indebted by 328 million euros – workers are owed millions.
Marbella is in debt to the tune of 267 million euros, while towns like Ronda owe over 25 million euros.
It has led to Mariano Rajoy’s new government failing to convince the markets it has the situation under control.
Now the bond yields have been pushed up over six per cent again, meaning Spain will have to pay more to borrow money.
It could force more cuts in government spending and comes on the back of a further 10 billion euros of cuts in health and education.
One measure specifically targetted foreigners who ‘abuse the health service’.