2 Dec 2010

Spain to sell part of airport operator and lottery

12:03 pm on 2 December 2010

Spain has announced plans to sell stakes in the country's airport authority and national lottery as part of moves to improve public finances.

Spain's budget deficit reached 11.1% of GDP last year and the government has pledged to cut it to 6% next year.

Companies will be now allowed own up to 49% in the AENA airport authority and 30% of the lottery.

AENA manages 47 airports, including Madrid Barajas airport and Barcelona airport, the two largest. It also has a 10% stake in Luton airport, London.

The BBC reports the state lottery agency made a net profit of 2.99 billion euros ($US3.9 billion) in 2009, 3.5% higher than a year before, despite the country's economic woes.

The government also announced that it would cut taxes for small and medium-sized companies.

The unemployment rate in Spain is 20% - the highest in the European Union.

To try to reduce this, the government is liberalising labour laws to make its job market more flexible.

The European Union has welcomed the announcements. However, IESE Business School Economics Professor Pedro Videla says Spain is not out of the woods yet.