MADRID — Spain Tuesday ordered its heavily indebted regions to cap their debt at 15 percent of output this year, the government said, in its latest tough targets to tackle the financial crisis.
Regional finance chiefs at a meeting with the national Treasury agreed to an overall debt ceiling for the 17 regions of 15.1 percent in 2012 and 16 percent in 2013, Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro told a news conference.
The central government's clampdown on their finances has raised tensions with some of the regions. Catalonia boycotted Tuesday's meeting and the economic councillor from Andalucia walked out before the targets were voted on.
Two smaller regions, Asturias and the Canary Islands, voted against the targets but the rest of those present, most from regions controlled by the ruling Popular Party, approved them.
The debt limit set for 2012 ranged from 9.87 percent of output for the Madrid region to 22.81 percent for Catalonia, junior public administration minister Antonio Beteta told reporters.
For 2013 the limits ranged from 10.07 percent for Madrid to 23.6 percent for Catalonia.
After walking out of the meeting, Andalucia's treasury councillor Carmen Martinez Aguayo branded the government's measures "disproportionate".
The targets "oblige us to make absolutely indiscriminate and totally illogical cuts in services such as health and education," she told reporters.
Under pressure to stabilise the public finances, Spain's conservative government has ordered the regions to cut their deficit to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product this year and to 0.7 percent in 2013.
Montoro said: "An overwhelming majority of the regions have voted in favour of the targets and debt ceilings proposed by the government and the commitment we all have, including those who opposed them or stayed away, to push ahead with fulfilling the public deficit targets."
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