Portugal's parliament has given final approval to an amending budget for 2014, in the face of the votes against by all opposition deputies. Government members said that the latest budget bill was necessary given the need to cut the deficit and meet the terms of Portugal's eurozone bailout.
Portugal's parliament on Friday gave final approval to an amending budget for 2014, in the face of the votes against by all opposition deputies, after the governing coalition rejected several opposition amendments to the bill.
The amending budget was tabled after Portugal's Constitutional Court struck down parts of the 2014 state budget, forcing the right-of-centre government to seek alternative savings. The rejected clauses would have brought public sector employees' pension scheme into line with the general system. Instead, the government decided to increase public sector employees' contributions to their health system and enlarge the tax base of the extraordinary income tax levy, which is now to apply to all salaries over €1,000 a month.
In Friday's brief debate in the final reading of the amending budget, Communist Party deputy Paulo Sá accused the government of "insisting on going against the Constitution" by submitting a bill that the opposition believes retains unconstitutional elements. The party had proposed that the extraordinary levy be abolished entirely and other taxes cut, with these measures offset with higher taxes on capital, corporate profits and financial transactions.
Government members responded that the latest budget bill was necessary given the need to cut the deficit and meet the terms of Portugal's euro-zone bailout. Social Democrat deputy Duarte Pacheco accused the leader of the Socialist Party, António José Seguro, of being inconsistent and irresponsible in telling a gathering of Portuguese and US business executives recently that he would be fiscally prudent in power, but then allowing his party to vote against the amending budget.
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