Spain's conservative government has targeted its austerity program on education and health care, announcing drastic cuts and increased fees. Trade unions have said they'll put up a fight to prevent the planned measures.
The Spanish government on Friday announced another round of budget cuts, this time focusing on savings in the health care and education systems. It said it would enforce cuts of about 10 billion euros ($13 billion).
The measures would slash seven billion euros from the central and regional governments' health budgets and three billion euros from their spending on education. "There's no money left to pay for public services," Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said during a visit to Colombia.
The savings will force pensioners to pay for a share of medication that had been free under the national health system. Madrid also announced measures against what it called "health tourism" in which foreigners from the European Union and elsewhere have come to Spain to use its universal medical services.
Spaniards not amused
"The cuts will ensure the viability of a national health system, while discouraging citizens from acquiring unnecessary medication," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in a statement.
Spain is struggling to trim its budget deficit from 8.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011 to just 5.3 percent this year, as agreed with the European Union. Madrid had already announced budget cuts and tax hikes to the tune of 27 billion euros.
The country's leading trade union confederations, CCOO and UGT, have called for nationwide protests on April 29. They accuse the government of creating an "economic and social emergency" by chipping away at the pillars of the welfare state.
hg/nk (dpa, AP)