Rajoy Faces Dissent From Regions Handing Valencia Widest Deficit

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is facing pushback from some regional leaders as he tries to rein in Spain’s budget deficit.

Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro won only “majority” support at a meeting of regional government presidents in Madrid yesterday where he agreed that Valencia would be allowed the widest budget deficit this year, the minister said in an e-mailed press release late yesterday.

“This is a proposal of individual stability targets for each region which is balanced, sensible, realistic, adapted to the circumstances and positive for each region and for Spain as a whole,” Montoro said in the note.

The Madrid region, which is governed by Rajoy’s People’s Party, voted against the plan, El Pais newspaper reported, citing comments by the Madrid budget chief Enrique Ossorio. Madrid was joined in opposing Montoro by Catalonia, which is chafing at the strictures imposed by the national government as regional President Artur Mas pushes for independence, El Pais said.

Valencia was set a deficit limit of 1.6 percent of gross domestic product while Catalonia was allowed a shortfall of 1.58 percent compared with 1.07 percent for the Madrid region and 1 percent for Extremadura, the ministry said.