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Archive for September, 2012

Sudan tells United Nations its debts must be canceled.


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Sudan told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday that its debts must be canceled and its economy supported as it struggles to recover from losing three-quarters of its critical oil revenue to South Sudan when it seceded a year ago.

The International Monetary Fund this week urged Sudan to meet donors to discuss debt relief and some IMF board members called for “exceptional efforts” from the IMF and the global community to help Sudan reduce its debt of about $40 billion.

“Sudan requires assistance to go through this very sensitive stage towards better horizons. For that we believe that debts must be canceled and its economy supported,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said.

South Sudan seceded in July 2011. Leaders from both states finally reached a border security deal on Wednesday to restart badly needed oil exports, but failed to solve the other key conflicts left over from when they split.

The pair failed to settle the fate of at least five disputed oil-producing regions along the border. Tensions over the unmarked 1,200-mile (1930-km) common border spilled over into fighting in April, when South Sudan’s army briefly occupied the Heglig oilfield, vital to Sudan’s economy.

They were also unable to reach a solution for the border region of Abyei, which has symbolic significance to both and is rich in grazing lands. Plans for a referendum have failed over the question of who should participate.

“We have been determined to tackle the reasons for war and strife despite the strong economic and political pressures being brought to bear against my country and unfair sanctions imposed by the United States,” Karti said.

Washington still maintains its 1997 embargo on the country over Sudan’s role in hosting prominent Islamist militants. The sanctions restrict U.S. trade and investment with Sudan and block the assets of the Sudanese government.

The United States and other powers criticize Sudan for human rights violations and a harsh crackdown on rebels. Western powers also shun Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who was indicted by the International Criminal Court over war crimes in Darfur, the site of a nearly decade-old insurgency.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

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Turkey, Egypt slam Syrian regime.


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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey and Egypt sought to boost their alliance in a turbulent region on Sunday, unleashing harsh criticism of the Syrian regime and pledging joint support for the Palestinian cause.

Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, addressed a major congress of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, amid signs that a partnership between their two countries is emerging, and said they both plan to stand by Palestinians and the Syrian people.

“Our common goal is to support other people who are standing up against their administrations or regimes, to support Palestine and the Syrians in their efforts,” Mursi said.

“The events in Syria are the tragedy of the century,” Morsi said. “We will be on the side of the Syrian people until the bloodshed ends, the cruel regime is gone and Syrian people reach their just rights.”

In his speech to the congress, which is marking the ruling Justice and Development party’s decade in power, Erdogan promised that Turkey, which is host to some 88,000 Syrian refuges as well as Syrian opposition groups, would continue to support the Syrian people wanting to oust the regime of President Bashar Assad.

He appealed to Russia, China and Iran to stop backing the regime.

“We call on Russia, China as well as Iran: please review your stance. History will not forgive those who stand together with cruel regimes,” he said.

With Khaled Mashaal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas also present, Erdogan said Turkey is determined to speak out against what he called Israel’s “state terrorism” in the region and praised Morsi for his support to Palestinians.

“Through Morsi’s leadership, our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and in all other Palestinian cities are able to breathe easily,” he said.

Erdogan said Turkey would not reconcile with former ally Israel until it lifts its blockade of Gaza and apologizes for an attack in 2010 that killed nine mostly Turkish pro-Palestinian activists in a raid on a flotilla that tried to breach the blockade.

Israel has refused to apologize but has expressed regret for the loss of lives. It insists troops opened fire after coming under attack by activists.

During his 12-hour visit to Turkey, Morsi will try to strengthen economic ties with Turkey — a country his Muslim Brotherhood group views as an Islamic success story, mixing a strong economy with Western ties and Islamic piety.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Cairo earlier this month and pledged a $2 billion in aid to boost confidence in an economy badly battered by a tourism slump, strikes and ongoing protests since the fall of the authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in an uprising last year.

Earlier, Erdogan told delegates at the congress that the era of military coups in the country is over and that Turkey is a model for other Muslim countries to emulate.

The Justice and Development Party, which came to power in 2002, has maintained Turkey’s decades-old secular system, but at the same time has curtailed the power of the military, which have staged three coups since the 1960s and forced an Islamic government out of office in 1997.

Earlier this month, a court sentenced more than 300 military officers to long prison terms for attempting to topple the government in 2003.

“The era of coups in this country will never return again,” Erdogan said. “Anyone who intervenes or tries to intervene in democracy will sooner or later go in front of the people’s courts and be made to account.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By SUZAN FRASER | Associated Press

Pakistan: In twist, Muslims accused of blasphemy.


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KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s blasphemy laws may be used to punish Muslims suspected of ransacking a Hindu temple in an intriguing twist for a country where harsh laws governing religious insults are primarily used against supposed offenses to Islam, not minority faiths.

The blasphemy laws, sections of which carry the death penalty or life imprisonment, have drawn renewed international scrutiny this year after a young Christian girl in Islamabad was alleged to have desecrated the Muslim holy book, the Quran. A Muslim cleric now stands accused of fabricating evidence against the girl, who has been freed on bail and whose mental capacity has been questioned.

Police officer Mohammad Hanif said Sunday the anti-Hindu attack took place Sept. 21. The government had declared that day a national holiday — a “Day of Love for the Prophet” — and called for peaceful demonstrations against an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. that has sparked protests throughout the Muslim world. Those rallies took a violent turn in Pakistan, and more than 20 people were killed.

Hanif said dozens of Muslims led by a cleric converged on the outskirts of Karachi in a Hindu neighborhood commonly known as Hindu Goth. The protesters attacked the Sri Krishna Ram temple, broke religious statues, tore up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, and beat up the temple’s caretaker, Sindha Maharaj.

“The attackers broke the statues of (Hindu deities) Radha, Hanuman, Parwati and Krishna, and took away the decorative gold ornaments,” Maharaj said. “They also stormed my home and snatched the gold jewelry of my family, my daughters.”

Maharaj and other Hindu leaders turned to the police, who registered a case against the cleric and eight other Muslims. But none of the suspects had been found as of Sunday, police said.

Officials said the case against the attackers was registered under Section 295-A of the blasphemy laws, which covers the “outraging of religious feelings.” That section of the law can apply to any religion and carries a fine or up to 10 years imprisonment.

The Asian subcontinent’s British rulers originally framed blasphemy laws partly as a way to prevent violence among Muslims and Hindus. Muslim-majority Pakistan was carved out of India in 1947, and under the military rule of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, a fervent Islamist, the statutes covering blasphemy were toughened in the 1980s.

Area police chief Jaffer Baloch said authorities were simply considering the Hindus’ complaint under the relevant section of the law.

Islam’s Prophet Muhammad “teaches us to respect others’ religions so that ours shall also be respected,” he said. “Like us, Hindus have their own faith and religion and they do have sentiments for their Bhagavad and gods.”

Human rights activists say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are too broad and vague, and are often used by people who are trying to settle scores with rivals or target religious minorities, who make up 5 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people.

Although many Muslims are accused of insulting Muhammad or other acts deemed blasphemous, minorities are disproportionately represented among the defendants, rights groups say.

Hindus and Christians are among prominent minorities who fear the blasphemy laws. Also frequently blamed for blasphemy are Ahmadis, who consider themselves Muslims but are reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims.

Pakistan is not known to have actually executed anyone for blasphemy, and while courts often set the accused free on technical grounds or other reasons, many extremists have killed people who were let go by judges.

Even speaking out against the blasphemy laws can put people in danger. Two prominent politicians, including the sole Christian member of the federal Cabinet, were assassinated in 2011 for urging reform of the law.

The politicians, Punjab province Gov. Salmaan Taseer and Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, had spoken out in defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death in 2010 for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Bibi, whose case prompted international criticism, is believed to be the first woman condemned to die under the statute and remains in prison.

The laws retain broad support in Pakistan, where Islamic conservatism is on the rise alongside extremism and Muslims are highly sensitive about their faith. Taseer’s killer, for instance, was hailed as a hero in many quarters. Thousands of people rallied to support him, and lawyers showered him with rose petals.

Many human rights activists, partly out of their own security concerns, have tempered their demands: years ago, they used to call for the blasphemy laws’ repeal, but now they say the laws should be reformed to prevent misuse. Even leaders of minority religious groups have often said they support the law but simply do not want to see it abused.

Although there’s no sign that the weak civilian government plans to amend the law, the case of the Christian girl has brought some hope that sentiments about it may change. Even some Islamist clerics sympathized with the girl, whose age has been said to be 14 or younger and who may be developmentally disabled.

Witness claims that a Muslim cleric stashed pages of a Quran in the girl’s bag to make it seem as if she burned them have added to the sympathy for her. The cleric is accused of planting the evidence to push Christians out of the neighborhood and is now being investigated for blasphemy himself. He denies any wrongdoing.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By ADIL JAWAD | Associated Press

Medicare fines over hospitals’ readmitted patients.


2,200 hospitals face Medicare penalties averaging $125K for patients returning with problems

WASHINGTON (AP) — If you or an elderly relative have been hospitalized recently and noticed extra attention when the time came to be discharged, there’s more to it than good customer service.

As of Monday, Medicare will start fining hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama’s health care law to improve quality while also trying to save taxpayers money.

About two-thirds of the hospitals serving Medicare patients, or some 2,200 facilities, will be hit with penalties averaging around $125,000 per facility this coming year, according to government estimates.

Data to assess the penalties have been collected and crunched, and Medicare has shared the results with individual hospitals. Medicare plans to post details online later in October, and people can look up how their community hospitals performed by using the agency’s “Hospital Compare” website.

It adds up to a new way of doing business for hospitals, and they have scrambled to prepare for well over a year. They are working on ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who follow patients after they’re released, as well as connecting individually with patients.

“There is a lot of activity at the hospital level to straighten out our internal processes,” said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and safety at the American Hospital Association. “We are also spreading our wings a little and reaching outside the hospital, to the extent that we can, to make sure patients are getting the ongoing treatment they need.”

Still, industry officials say they have misgivings about being held liable for circumstances beyond their control. They also complain that facilities serving low-income people, including many major teaching hospitals, are much more likely to be fined, raising questions of fairness.

“Readmissions are partially within the control of the hospital and partially within the control of others,” Foster said.

Consumer advocates say Medicare’s nudge to hospitals is long overdue and not nearly stiff enough.

“It’s modest, but it’s a start,” said Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “Should we be surprised that industry is objecting? You would expect them to object to anything that changes the status quo.”

For the first year, the penalty is capped at 1 percent of a hospital’s Medicare payments. The overwhelming majority of penalized facilities will pay less. Also, for now, hospitals are only being measured on three medical conditions: heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

Under the health care law, the penalties gradually will rise until 3 percent of Medicare payments to hospitals are at risk. Medicare is considering holding hospitals accountable on four more measures: joint replacements, stenting, heart bypass and treatment of stroke.

If General Motors and Toyota issue warranties for their vehicles, hospitals should have some similar obligation when a patient gets a new knee or a stent to relieve a blocked artery, Santa contends. “People go to the hospital to get their problem solved, not to have to come back,” he said.

Excessive rates of readmission are only part of the problem of high costs and uneven quality in the U.S. health care system. While some estimates put readmission rates as high as 20 percent, a congressional agency says the level of preventable readmissions is much lower. About 12 percent ofMedicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized are later readmitted for a potentially preventable problem, said the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, known as MedPAC.

Foster, the hospital association official, said medication mix-ups account for a big share of problems. Many Medicare beneficiaries are coping with multiple chronic conditions, and it’s not unusual for their medication lists to be changed in the hospital. But their doctors outside sometimes don’t get the word; other times, the patients themselves don’t understand there’s been a change.

Another issue is making sure patients go to their required follow-up appointments.

Medicare deputy administrator Jonathan Blum said he thinks hospitals have gotten the message.

“Clearly it’s captured their attention,” said Blum. “It’s galvanized the hospital industry on ways to reduce unnecessary readmissions. It’s forced more parts of the health care system to work together to ensure that patients have much smoother transitions.”

MedPAC, the congressional advisory group, has produced research findings that back up the industry’s assertion that hospitals serving the poor, including major teaching facilities, are more likely to face penalties. But for now, Blum said Medicare is not inclined to grade on the curve.

“We have really tried to address and study this issue,” said Blum. “If you look at the data, there are hospitals that serve a low-income patient mix and do very well on these measures. It seems to us that hospitals that serve low-income people can control readmissions very well.”

Under Obama’s health care overhaul, Medicare is pursuing efforts to try to improve quality and lower costs. They include rewarding hospitals for quality results, and encouraging hospitals, nursing homes and medical practice groups to join in “accountable care organizations.” Dozens of pilot programs are under way. The jury is still out on the results.

 Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press | Associated Press

Obama, Romney: Rivals with little personal history.


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WASHINGTON (AP) — When Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2008, one of the people who reached out to the couple was newly elected President Barack Obama.

It was one of the few personal interactions between Obama and Romney.

“He was kind enough to call our home when my wife was ill, and he said that he and Michelle had my wife in their prayers,” Romney said in an interview after the call. “I said, ‘Mr. President-elect, Ann and I have you in our prayers’. And we do.”

Even as their political fates have become more entwined, Obama and Romney have had little opportunity to connect directly. In fact, when the Democratic president and the former Republican governor of Massachusetts stand alongside each other during Wednesday night’s presidential debate in Denver, it will be their first face-to-face meeting in nearly five years.

“I don’t really know him well,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think Gov. Romney obviously has achieved extraordinary success with his businesses, and he’s obviously very focused on achieving the presidency. He cares deeply about his family, and I think he cares deeply about his faith.”

Romney has had similarly kind words about the president as a father and family man. But most of their descriptions of each other during the campaign are far less complimentary, and that probably will be the case in the debate.

Romney accuses the president of having “more European than American” views. Obama says Romney has written off half the country.

The two do have a few similarities. They’re both graduates of Harvard Law School; Romney also has a business degree from the Ivy League university. Each is a multimillionaire, though Romney’s estimated $250 million fortune far exceeds Obama’s net worth, which is as much as $8.3 million.

When people get one of their first looks at the rivals standing side by side Wednesday, they’ll see a Republican who is 14 years older and an inch taller than the 51-year-old president, who stands 6-feet-1.

Obama and Romney first met in 2004 at a gathering of Washington’s political and media elite. Romney, then governor, and Obama, a senator-elect from Illinois, were picked by the Gridiron Club to deliver speeches at the group’s dinner. The private event’s festive atmosphere, however, meant their dueling speeches were more about cracking jokes than outlining their policy differences.

By the time their paths crossed again, the rising political stars were presidential contenders. Seeking to line up votes in the New Hampshire primary, they both showed up for the 2007 Labor Day parade in the town of Milford. They shook hands, exchanged a few pleasantries and turned their attention to the voters.

New Hampshire was also the site of what aides to both men believe was their last face-to-face meeting before Wednesday’s debate.

In January 2008, the Republican and Democratic primary candidates were holding back-to-back debates in Manchester. After the Republicans wrapped up, the moderator invited the Democrats waiting in the wings to join them briefly onstage for a brief show of bipartisanship.

Obama and Romney found each other in the scrum. They smiled and shook hands, with Obama placing his hand warmly on Romney’s arm.

Obama went on to win the White House. Romney dropped out of the Republican race shortly thereafter.

They’ve had one direct exchange during the 2012 campaign. Obama called Romney in late May after the Republican clinched the GOP nomination. He congratulated Romney and told him he “looked forward to an important and healthy debate about America’s future.”

Aides to both men described the call as brief and cordial.

Their scant personal relationship is in many ways the result of potential pathways to the presidency that had little to do with Washington. Obama spent just two years in the Senate before launching his 2008 White House bid. Romney spent most of his career in the private sector and has never worked in the nation’s capital.

It’s a marked contrast to many of the other political pairs that have faced off against each other for the presidency. Obama and his 2008 GOP rival John McCain, for example, had worked together in the Senate before facing each other in the general election.

Similarly, President George W. Bush and his 2004 Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, knew each other from work in Washington. Same with President Bill Clinton and then-Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, the Republican nominee in 1996.

Sara Taylor Fagen, who served as a political adviser to Bush, said Obama and Romney’s lack of a personal relationship would likely be a mixed blessing on the debate stage.

“On the one hand, you’ve depersonalized it. You can say, ‘I don’t really know you, I’m totally comfortable saying whatever I have to,” Fagen said. “On the other hand, familiarity is a really helpful thing. Even though you may be fierce opponents, it also gives you a comfort level.”

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Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By JULIE PACE | Associated Press

EU falls short on Africa water projects: auditor.


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – More than half of the European Union’s projects to provide safe drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa failed to deliver, the EU’s audit watchdog said in a report on Friday.

The report by the European Court of Auditors examined 23 projects co-funded by the EU in six African countries between 2001 and 2010. The audit found that the projects, at a total cost of 400 million euros, often lacked sufficient supervision and that checks were not always carried out to ensure that water was fit for human consumption.

The authors said that while equipment was usually installed properly, local communities did not receive enough support to manage the projects long term.

“Fewer than half of the projects examined delivered results meeting the beneficiaries’ needs,” the auditors said in a 43-page report.

In one case in Nigeria, boreholes and pumps relied on an unreliable electricity grid, with diesel generators installed as back-ups. But the high cost of diesel meant that the back-ups were largely unused and towns returned to using unsafe sources of water.

A British member of the European Parliament, Nirj Deva, said: “In these tough economic times it is vital that every pound we spend on foreign aid goes to the right place and achieves the right result. We can’t go on spraying around taxpayers’ cash willy-nilly with no proper regard for the eventual outcome and for value for money.”

In a statement, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, disputed some of the auditor’s findings but acknowledged that the projects could have been run better in some cases.

“There is no room for complacency and there is always a need for improvement,” Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said.

“I want to reconfirm the EU’s strong commitment to making sure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to clean, safe water and sanitation.”

A spokeswoman said that the Commission had improved monitoring of the projects since 2005 and that most of the projects examined in the report were started before reforms were introduced.

“This type of regular checking really proves that EU aid is under control and we are in constant communication with the authorities,” said Catherine Ray, the Commission’s spokeswoman on development issues.

Improving access to drinking water and sanitation are important steps in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals – a series of eight challenges to increase health and reduce poverty in the developing world by 2015.

One of the aims is for the number of people without safe drinking water and sanitation to be reduced by half from 1990 levels.

The EU spent 1.01 billion euros on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa from 2001 to 2010, but the World Bank and the United Nations say that between $8 billion and $11.8 billion would be required each year until 2015 to reach the millennium goal on water and sanitation.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Ethan Bilby | Reuters

 

Spain debt rises on aid to banks, regions, finance cost.


  • Spain's Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro stands in front of a screen showing a document with a Quick Response (QR) code, representing the first draft of Spain's 2013 budget,during a ceremony at Parliament September 29, 2012. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

    Enlarge PhotoReuters/Reuters – Spain‘s Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro stands in front of a screen showing a document with a Quick Response (QR) code, representing the first draft of Spain’s 2013 budget,during a ceremony …more 

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MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s debt levels are set to rise next year, piling pressure on the government to apply for aid as it pours funds in to cash-strapped regions, an ailing banking system and rising refinancing costs, its budget showed on Saturday.

Spain’s debt as a ratio of gross domestic product will reach 90.5 percent by end 2013, according to the document presented to parliament for approval, almost three times that registered before the property bubble burst in 2008.

The budget aims to make savings of around 13 billion euros ($16.7 billion) next year, largely by deepening already unpopular cuts in public sector wages, education, health and social services, fuelling anti-austerity protests.

“This is an austerity budget, but will serve to help us get over this long economic crisis and once again show that Spain is a trustworthy partner within Europe,” Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro told journalists after delivering the budget.

Spain is at the center of the euro zone debt crisis as nervous investors demand ever higher premiums to hold Spanish debt on concerns the government cannot control its finances in the midst of a deepening recession.

Calls by wealthy northeastern region Catalonia for independence and the rising number of demonstrations on the streets of major cities have stoked doubts Spain can fix its problems without help.

Thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday in Madrid’s Neptune plaza, between the Prado Museum and Parliament, for a third time this week to vent anger at politicians they accuse of pillaging the welfare state to bail out badly-run banks.

“This has to change. We have to show them we are not an anti-system minority but represent Spain’s discontent and we are many. You only have to see the unemployment rate to see that,” said state school teacher, Montse, 44, who was at the march with her unemployed husband and 11-year-old daughter.

Unemployment in Spain is more than double the European Union average, with half of all working-age under-26s unable to find jobs and shattered businesses laying off employees they cannot afford to pay.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has delayed any plea for aid, which would kick-start a European Central Bank plan to buy debt and ease financing costs, though this week has passed reforms and the budget plan in what many see is an effort to pre-empt the likely terms of a bailout.

Rajoy, who said he is considering the conditions behind any aid request, is widely expected to wait until after regional elections in Galicia and the Basque Country before taking any decision.

RISING BORROWING NEEDS

The budget details spending cuts of 3.1 percent in health, 14.4 percent in education and 6.3 percent in unemployment benefits, as the recession, which began in the first quarter, drags on.

Spain will also slash state funding to commerce, tourism and small, and medium-sized companies by 18.8 percent and infrastructure by 13.5 percent.

The government will increase its reliance on international markets for funding next year, with gross debt issuance requirements of 207.2 billion euros, after budgeting in 2012 for gross issuance of 186.1 billion euros.

The cost of financing its debt, as benchmark 10-year bond yields rise to near unsustainable levels of above 6 percent, is expected to increase to 38.6 billion euros, or 3.6 percent of GDP, in 2013, the budget showed.

The Treasury must pay debt redemptions of 159.2 billion euros in 2013, up slightly from 153.2 billion euros in 2012.

The increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio was due the economic crisis and the effect of state instruments on public accounts, the Treasury said in the document.

The instruments include the power deficit bond programme, FADE, the service provider fund for regional governments, Spain’s part in aid granted to Ireland, Greece and Portugal and the recapitalization loan for the country’s banks, it said.

Brussels on Thursday said the budget was a large step in the right direction. But many economists expressed doubt Spain’s conservatives would be able to raise the cash the budget demanded as pension and debt-servicing costs rise.

“My general view is that this is an optimistic budget, in the sense that predictions for the contraction in 2013 are very optimistic,” said Xavier Vives, economist at business school IESE, adding he expected the plans to be revised as with every other budget over the last four years.

The budget is based on the assumption GDP will shrink by 0.5 percent in 2013 year-on-year, though most economists expect a deeper slump.

DEFICIT JUMP

Spain will meet its 2012 public deficit target as dictated by European guidelines, Montoro said, but the shortfall will jump by more than one percentage point if aid to its struggling banks were taken in to account.

The Spanish deficit this year would be 6.3 percent of GDP, not including these payments to its banks, he said, but would rise to 9.4 percent of GDP last year and 7.4 percent of GDP this year if the aid was considered.

“Everything within the deficit derived from financial operations aren’t included … they’re considered one-offs,” Montoro said.

Spain has asked for up to 100 billion euros for its crisis-hit banks, though the debate among Spain’s European partners rages over whether that money would go directly to its lenders or first via public coffers.

On Friday, an independent report showed Spanish banks will need up to 59.3 billion euros in extra capital to ride out the economic downturn.

The budget details on Saturday showed Spain’s debt ratio included 30 billion euros of the planned 100-billion-euro aid request for the country’s banks.

($1 = 0.7773 euros)

(Additional reporting Carlos Ruano, Nigel Davies and Paul Day; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by James Jukwey and Sophie Hares)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Andrés González | Reuters

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