Auditors visit Portugal amid protests by business leaders | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.06.2013
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Auditors visit Portugal amid protests by business leaders

International auditors have returned to Portugal to assess the government's revised austerity measures. Domestic business leaders launched a strong attack on the cost-cutting policy and urged a change in direction.

Representatives from the European Commission, the European Central bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which together form a troika of creditors for eurozone nations in crisis, returned to Portugal on Monday in preparation for their eighth evaluation of the country's performance, under its 78 billion euro ($102 billion) bailout program.

The auditors were expected to focus their attention on a 4.7 billion euro savings package adopted by the government and including massive public job cuts and worse deals for pensioners.

The package was meant to partly replace four earlier austerity measures which were partly struck down by the Constitutional Court.

Industry not amused

Two leading Portuguese union confederations called a general strike for June 27 to protest against the government's policies. Strong words in protest of austerity also came on Monday from four employers' associations representing industry, shops, tourism and agriculture.

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Portugal's new cost-cutting plan

"The austerity plan for Portugal was a short-term response, applied as if it were the only one possible, but today, given the results, no one can be so irresponsible as to defend it or even worse pursue it," the business leaders said in their joint statement.

They pointed to the country being in its third year of recession, with unemployment having climbed to about 18 percent.

"The policy for correcting the budget remains centered on reducing internal demand, a crazy increase in taxation and an absence of financing for small and medium-sized businesses," the statement continued, as industry leaders demanded first of all a revision of corporate tax policies.

hg/jr (AFP, dpa)

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