Spain sets limits to regions' deficit and debt until 2016
MADRID, June 27 (Reuters) - The Spanish government on Thursday set limits on budget deficits and debt issuance by the country's 17 autonomous regions through 2016 in a drive to help meet budget goals agreed with the EU.
Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro said after a meeting with officials from all the regions that the maximum annual budget gap for the regions as a group would be 1.3 percent of economic output in 2013.
That global figure will be reduced to 1.0 percent in 2014, 0.7 percent in 2015 and 0.2 percent in 2016.
But this year the different regions will get individualised goals in an effort to soften the blow for those that missed targets last year.
Montoro said he would meet again with the regions in July to discuss budget goals with each, a decision which has been delayed several times as key regions, including economic heavyweight Catalonia, want leeway to soften spending cuts in health and education.
The ratio of debt to gross domestic product, or GDP, in the regions will be limited to 19.1 percent in 2013, 20 percent in 2014, 20.5 percent in 2015 and 20.3 percent in 2016.
Spain has made a commitment to the European Union to reduce its deficit below the European limit of 3 percent of GDP by 2016. Its budget gap topped 10 percent of economic output last year, including the cost of bailing out its crippled banks.
In the meeting on Thursday, the 11 regions ruled by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party agreed on both sets of limits. The Basque Country and Navarra abstained in the vote while Catalonia, Andalusia, Asturias and the Canary Islands voted against.