Portuguese businesses call for end to austerity

Portuguese businessmen want relief from austerity, say lower taxes needed to spur growth

Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Portuguese business leaders are urging the bailed-out country's government to change course, saying austerity measures are choking the economy.

A 78 billion euros ($102 billion) rescue two years ago required the government to adopt pay cuts and tax hikes. Those measures are widely blamed for what is expected to be a third straight year of recession in 2013 and a jobless rate that has climbed to 17.8 percent.

The heads of four national business confederations, covering industry, trade and services, tourism, and agriculture, issued a joint statement Monday appealing for lower taxes that might allow companies to resume investment and permit households to start spending again.

Portugal's two trade union confederations, representing about 1 million workers, have a called a national one-day strike against austerity on Wednesday.

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