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Guatemala legislators hold special session on bonds
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10:04, August 05, 2009

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Guatemala's Congress was holding a special session to discuss issuing government bonds to the tune of 1.8 billion quetzals (221 million U.S. dollars), according to news reaching here on Tuesday.

The discussion comes as the nation's Finance Ministry formally asked the cabinet to cut budgets -- slashing at least 15 percent if the bond issue bill fails to pass or 10 percent if it does.

Before the session got started, a group of around 200 mayors arrived to lobby the deputies for a slice of the cash that the bond would generate, according to reports.

Guatemala's opposition Patriotic Party tabled several measures designed to delay the decision, which has been stalled in the legislature for months.

Big scale government borrowing is looked on with suspicion in the country because in the 1990s, a group of politicians, who had long since left office, ate up all the cash generated by a bond issue.

Also on Tuesday, the ministers of Labor and Finance told media that the government was facing budget cuts because income had fallen by 6 billion quetzals (737 million dollars) during the first half of the year.

Minister of Labor Edgar Rodrigues warned that such a cut would hit the ministry's workplace inspection program.

Deputy Finance Minister Carlos Barreda told media that the ministry was seeking cuts to the government's spending on travel, cellular phones, fuel and vehicle buying. The cut was first discussed publicly in early July.


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