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Portugal's Govt. to Present Austerity Plan to Parliament

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TEHRAN, March 21 (ICANA) – Portugal's minority Socialist government decided on Sunday to present its latest austerity measures to parliament on Monday, raising the stakes in a row with the opposition over how to avoid a bailout.
Monday, March 21, 2011 4:48:47 PM
Portugal's Govt. to Present Austerity Plan to Parliament

Prime Minister Jose Socrates has threatened to resign if the austerity measures are not approved in parliament, prompting a crisis that his government says will most likely force Lisbon to have to seek foreign aid like Greece and Ireland, reports thewest.com.au.

The main opposition party, the centre-right Social Democrats, have said they would not support the austerity measures, withdrawing from the previous backing they had given to the government on cost cutting earlier in the euro debt crisis. The government needs opposition support to pass legislation as it rules without a majority in parliament.

"Whoever wants to create a political crisis at this moment is the one that will be responsible for its consequences," Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told journalists after an extraordinary cabinet meeting to discuss the austerity measure.

Silva Pereira said it was up to parliament leaders to decide when there will be a vote on the measures or if the opposition wants to present a motion challenging the government's efforts to cut the budget deficit.

"If that is their decision then it is a political crisis that they are aiming for," said Silva Pereira.

The government held the extraordinary cabinet meeting on Sunday where it took the decision to present the measures to parliament now, hoping to arrive at a European Union summit at the end of the week with the measures approved. EU leaders will discuss how to beef up the euro zone rescue fund at the summit.

The government hopes that having the measures approved can generate more confidence in Brussels and among investors that Portugal will be able to cut its budget deficit and avoid seeking a bailout.

The minority Socialist government announced a series of extra spending cuts and tax changes on March 11, aimed at bringing its budget deficit down to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 from around 7 percent last year.

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