Two more Spanish regions seek rescue: officials

The Spanish regions of Asturias and the Balearic Islands will join six others in seeking rescue funds from the central government to help finance their debt, officials said Friday.

The northern Asturias region will seek nearly 262 million euros ($341 million) from a central government fund, an regional treasury official said, and the Balearics said in a statement it would ask for 355 million euros.

Spain’s regions, which control budgets such as healthcare and education, are a key focus of Spain’s efforts to stabilise its public finances amid concerns that the country itself may need bailing out.

The government in September launched an 18-billion euro fund for troubled regions, from which eight overall have now requested funds totalling more than 17.5 billion euros.

The government has insisted that 18 billion euros overall will be enough.

Andalusia, Valencia, Murcia, Castilla-La Mancha, the Canary Islands and the big northeastern region of Catalonia had already asked for aid from the fund.

Catalonia, which has a bigger economy than any of the other regions, asked for just over five billion euros and Andalusia, the region with the biggest population, asked for 4.9 billion.

The Asturias treasury official who asked not to be named said the region needed 423 million euros overall to balance its books, of which it would borrow part from the banks.

The government of the Balearics, a popular tourist destination, said that of the 355 million euros demanded, 189 million was to pay off debts and the rest was to finance its overall deficit.

In June the Balearics had 4.673 billion euros of debt, equal to 17.5 percent of its output, above the average of 14.2 percent among Spain’s 17 regions, the central bank said.

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