Portugal scraps four public holidays in austerity drive

Demonstrators carrying flags, 1 May 2012 Portuguese people showed their anger over austerity measures in May Day rallies

Portugal has taken austerity measures to a new level with the decision to scrap four of its 14 public holidays.

Two religious festivals and two other public holidays will be suspended for five years from 2013.

The decision over which Catholic festivals to cut was negotiated with the Vatican.

Portugal has already cut public sector wages and raised taxes to reduce its budget deficit and deal with its economic crisis.

The country agreed a 78bn euro bailout deal with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund last year and recently passed the latest review of its spending cuts.

It is hoped the suspension of the public holidays will improve competitiveness and boost economic activity.

The four days affected are All Saints Day on 1 November; Corpus Christi, which falls 60 days after Easter; 5 October, which commemorates the formation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910; and 1 December, which marks Portuguese independence from Spanish rule in 1640.

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