Solbes demands prudence over spending on civil servants

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The economy minister wants fellow ministers to control spending on staff and wages as Spain faces budget-shrinking effects of economy gloom.

11 June 2008

MADRID - Economy Minister Pedro Solbes is demanding that his fellow ministers reign in runaway spending on new staff and wages in order to better adapt public finances to deal with the budget-shrinking effects of the current economic crisis.

According to internal finance department documents, spending on civil servants employed by the central government climbed 7.3 percent annually during the first four-year term of Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Solbes is keen to put a stop to that expansion in spending in the current legislature amid expectations of lower tax returns and an end to Spain's budget surplus.

Much of the increase in spending in recent years has gone on ministries creating and staffing new departments. Since 2004, 68 new senior officials have been added to the administration, among them the heads of 30 new state agencies. Meanwhile, Zapatero's new government has led to the creation of 21 director general posts and 41 positions for deputy director generals.

Though no further expansions in staff in the upper echelons of government are expected in the near future, Solbes is particularly concerned about the wage demands existing civil servants may make in light of rising inflation.

Already the government has had to promise to fork out an additional EUR 15 million in 2008 and EUR 24 million 2009 to get striking court workers to return to work following a stoppage that ground the justice system to a halt earlier this year.

[El Pais / Luis R. Aizpeolea / Expatica]

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