24 Aug 2011

Spain to place constitutional cap on debt

5:43 am on 24 August 2011

Spain intends to change its constitution to prevent future governments from building up excessive debts. It is the first eurozone country to do so.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told parliament that the constitution should be amended with a clause obliging governments to limit public deficits.

Last week, France and Germany proposed that all eurozone countries should introduce balanced budget provisions to help avoid a repeat of the current debt crisis.

Parliament discussed further austerity measures designed to cut the deficit to 6% of economic output this year, from 9.2% in 2010.

The BBC reports the proposed constitutional amendment would require the government to maintain a balanced budget, and would put a cap on the total amount of debts it could run up.

''It represents a step toward strengthening confidence in the medium and long term stability in the Spanish economy,'' said Mr Zapatero.

A constitutional amendment needs a 60% majority in both chambers of parliament, and can only pass with opposition support.

It is expected to be passed before elections are held on 20 November.

Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy said his People's Party intends to back it.

''I think it should have been done already and things would gave gone better for us,'' he said.