“Baby cheque” abolished as last one paid at five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve

Update 1 January 2011: As part of Spain’s austerity measures, the so-called baby cheque was abolished at midnight last night. The one-off maternity payment of €2,500 has been given to all mothers of babies born in Spain, but with the announcement that the final payment would be made on the last day of the year, many mothers-to-be were anxious that their babies were born before midnight. The last Canarian baby born before the payment system lapsed was in HUC Tenerife, a little girl named Aitana who was born at five minutes to midnight. PV

Original post 12 May 2010: In reaction to Europe-wide fears that the economic crisis in Greece will spread to several other European countries, the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has announced a series of austerity measures to shore up confidence in the country’s economy. Spain’s budget deficit is not huge at 11% of GDP, but the country’s unemployment, nationally running at over 20%,  is more than double the European average. The measures announced this morning include a reduction in public sector salaries by 5% this year and freezing them completely in 2011, a freeze on reviews and automatic rises of state pensions, and the abolition of the extremely popular “baby cheque”, both of the latter coming into force next year. The maternity payment has been a one-off payment of €2,500 made to all new mothers of babies born in Spain. Sr Zapatero said the measures would save about 15bn euros ($19bn; £12.5bn) over two years, and should trim the deficit to 6% of GDP in 2011. Apart from the direct effect that this could have on public services, pensioners, and new mothers in the Canaries, the PM’s comments that funding for regional governments is also to be cut will ring alarm bells in the islands even further. There will be a cabinet vote later this week on the measures, which include the reduction of senior cabinet members’ and Sr Zapatero’s own salaries by 15%.  El Pais, BBC


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