Catalonia seeks 9 bn euros from Spanish bailout fund

The regional government of Catalonia on Tuesday formally requested 9 billion euros ($12 billion) from a rescue fund created by Spain to save its financially beleaguered regions.

"The amount planned by the Spanish Interior and Public Administration Ministry is 9.073 billion euros," the government of Catalonia said in a statement.

The request comes less than a week after Catalonia's parliament approved a declaration of sovereignty that may lead to a vote on self-determination for the region whose leaders want greater autonomy from Spain.

Of the total amount, 7.7 billion euros will be earmarked to pay out maturing debt and international loans, the statement said, and the remainder set aside to ensure the region reaches a 2013 deficit target of 0.7 percent of GDP imposed by the central Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The regional fund was created last year to come to the rescue of Spain's 17 regions, most of which have been hit hard by the eurozone debt crisis.

The fund was financed with 18 billion euros in 2012, of which Catalonia received 5.3 billion euros, and is expected to receive 23 billion euros from Madrid in 2013.

Catalonia is home to 7.5 million of Spain's total population of 46 million. It accounts for more than a fifth of Spain's economic output and a quarter of its exports.

Proud of their distinct language and culture, many Catalans blame the region's financial difficulties on tax income redistributed to other regions of Spain.

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