Portugal Scraps Four Public Holidays To Cut Costs
From 2013 there will be a five-year hiatus during which two religious holidays and two public holidays will be cancelled. All Saints Day, Corpus Christi, a commemoration of the formation of the Portuguese Republic and a holiday celebrating independence from Spanish rule will all now be regular working days, The Telegraph reported. Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias reports that the Portuguese Catholic Church claims to have reached an "exceptional understanding" with the country over the suspension. The decision to temporarily skip the religious holidays also involved negotiation with the Vatican, reports the BBC. The country's leaders hope that the 20 extra productive days over the next five years will give the country's GDP a boost and help to drive growth. Struggling Portugal agreed to a €78bn bailout from the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund last year and has been forced to implement strict austerity measures in return. The state has already cut public sector pay, raised taxes and reduced benefits to help meet deficit targets, but investors remain concerned that it will need additional support from its European partners. Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar said today that Portugal has to remain focussed on bringing its public finances in order and that economic growth cannot be achieved through higher spending. Read more.