Spain to give 400 euros to 18-year-olds to spend on cultural – but not bullfighting

Spain to give 400 euros to 18-year-olds to spend on cultural - but not bullfighting
Government estimates half a million teenagers will be eligible for fund

Around half a million Spanish citizens turning 18 next year will be eligible for a 400 euro (£340) government voucher to spend on cultural activities as ministers seek to get the Covid-hit economy back on track.

The funds, which form part of Spain’s 2020 budget, can be spent on anything from film and theatre tickets and concerts to books and dance activities – but bullfighting has not been included.

Bullfighting businesses wanted to participate in the scheme and have hit out at the left wing government, made up of the Socialist Party and the left-wing United We Can Party, saying their exclusion would be a “scandal”.

Dating back to Roman times, bullfighting is one of Spain’s most famous traditions, along with flamenco music.

But it has fallen in popularity with swathes of the Spanish population, particularly young people.

The number of bullfights taking place across the country has declined in recent years. According to government figures, only 9.5 per cent of the population went to an event in 2015.

Activists say bullfighting is animal abuse but proponents argue it is part of the national fabric. Both government coalition partners are against it.

The government calculates that close to a half-million people will be eligible for the voucher, costing the state around 190 million euros (£161m).

The budget seeks to drive a post-pandemic economic recovery through massive public investment, including with European Union funds.

The government is aiming for 7 per cent growth in Spain’s gross domestic product next year.

The Bank of Spain, the country’s central bank, expects 6.3 per cent growth this year and 5.9 per cent next year.

The government predicts that the budget deficit will fall next year to 5 per cent of GDP, from an estimated 8.4 per cent this year, due to an increase in tax revenue as the economy recovers.

Government workers are to get a 2 per cent pay increase. Old-age pensions will also be increased in line with inflation, with the lowest pensions set to rise at least 3 per cent next year.

A debate on the budget proposal is scheduled for next week in the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish parliament, followed by a vote. The reception the proposal gets from lawmakers is regarded as a test of the government’s strength.

France and Italy have taken similar steps to support their cultural sectors during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland ministers announced a scheme designed to get people back spending money on the high street in a bid to boost local economy following months of lockdown restrictions.

All citizens are eligible for a £100 prepaid card to spend and are being encouraged to spend it in local shops.

Additional reporting by Associated Press


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