People in Spain have staged demonstrations in several cities across the country to voice their anger at the corruption in the eurozone member state which is in the grip of a sharp economic downturn, Press TV reports.
On Friday, angry protesters assembled near the headquarters of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s centre-right Popular Party in the capital Madrid, chanting slogans. The building was protected by riot police and metal barriers.
The demonstrations were sparked by a recent report by the centre-right newspaper El Mundo disclosing that senior members of Popular Party collected undeclared salaries, largely from private companies.
The paper added that former Popular Party treasurer Luis Barcenas gave envelopes which contained 5,000-15,000 euros (USD 6,500 -20,000) to party officials in addition to their official salaries during two decades.
The newspaper, however, highlighted that Rajoy did not receive such kind of payments and he ordered Popular Party secretary general Maria Dolores de Cospedal to end the practice in 2009.
“The Popular Party’s accounts are clear, transparent and inspected by the Court of Auditors,” Cospedal said, denying allegations that party members got undisclosed payments under her supervision.
This comes as on January 16, Spanish media reported that Barcenas along with several others held a Swiss bank account with some 22 million euros.
“The thieves… are taking all the money. Undoubtedly who is going to suffer the consequences are the poor people,” a protester told Press TV.
As the fourth largest eurozone economy, Spain must lower its deficit to 4.5 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent in 2014.
Economists, however, say those targets will be difficult to meet amid poor prospects for the country’s economic recovery.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs.