Portuguese parliament adopts tough austerity budget amid protest

LISBON, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Portuguese Parliament adopted Tuesday the tough 2014 draft budget to save the bailout country some 3.9 billion euros (5.29 U.S. dollars) through spending cuts and tax increase amid strong protests.

The draft budget was adopted by 131 votes in favor and 94 against. All of the opposition lawmakers along with one from the People's Party, the junior coalition partner in the government, voted against it.

Among the austerity measures enshrined in the draft budget, they include cuts of up to 12 percent in the salaries of public sector workers earning more than 675 euros a month and up to 10 percent in pensions of retired civil servants that are more than 600 euros a month.

According to Portugal's Constitution, the country's president is authorized to declare the effectiveness of the budget within 20 days or submit it to the Constitutional Court for verdict after receiving it.

Since the signing of the bailout agreement worth 78 billion euros with the troika comprising the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank in May 2011, Portugal has been implementing a tough austerity policy which has been blamed for the deepening recession in the country in the past few years and has also sparked strong protests among the public.

On Tuesday, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building, chanting slogans against the government's austerity budget. Protests were also held in northern cities of Porto, Coimbra and Aveiro.

Portugal's faltered economy has emerged an early sigh of recovery in recent months but its unemployment remains high.

To meet the deficit reduction target of 4 percent of its GDP, the 2014 draft budget has to include more austerity measures such as cutting of pensions and salaries of civil servants. The budget has already triggered fresh waves of protests in the country since it was made public on Oct. 15.