Catalonia rejects new deficit targets set by Spain
The Catalan Vice President and Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras, voted against the new regional deficit target of 0.6% of GDP agreed between the Conservative People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialists (PSOE). During the Council on Fiscal and Financial Policies (CPFF, going by its Catalan initials) on Thursday evening, Junqueras said that the target is “absolutely far from what citizens need and deserve”. The Catalan Government had asked for a 1.18% deficit target for 2017, but the Autonomous Communities’ limits were set instead at 0.6% for next year, 0.3% for 2018 and 0% of GDP for 2019. They were accepted despite the opposition of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. The communities led by the PSOE abstained. The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, celebrated the fact that only three territories voted against the measure, saying there was a “good atmosphere” at the meeting.
Barcelona (CNA).-The Catalan Vice President and Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras, rejected the new regional deficit targets approved on Thursday evening at the Council on Fiscal and Financial Policies (CPFF) in Madrid. The limits were set at 0.6% of GDP for 2017, 0.3% for 2018 and 0% for 2019. According to Junqueras, these figures are “absolutely far from what the citizens need and deserve”. Catalonia, along with Valencia and the Balearic Islands, voted against these targets, while the communities led by the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Canary Islands abstained. Only those run by the Conservative’s People Party (PP) voted in favour. Contrary to Junqueras’ views, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro said that “there was a good atmosphere” at the meeting. “We are opening a new stage and a new way of doing politics, with a willingness to agree in order to set the targets”, he added.
Junqueras attended the Council of Fiscal and Financial Policy with a copy of the Catalan Government budget for 2017. He requested a deficit target of 1.18% for next year, a much higher figure than the 0.6% agreed by the PP and the PSOE. Although the new limit is 0.1% higher than that announced in April by the Spanish Government, it is still far from what Catalonia has been asking for. The new target gives regions the possibility to spend around €4,000 million more, €215 million in Catalonia’s case.
Before the Council, the Catalan Vice President had a brief conversation with both the Spanish Vice President and Minister of Territorial Administrations, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, and the Spanish Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro. The Spanish Government is aiming to ease the relationship with Catalonia, in taters since the independence process started, by showing a willingness to talk. However, Junqueras’ demands have been rejected.
The Vice President claimed that throughout the meeting he “talked to everybody”, but avoided commenting on whether or not he saw Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría as more keen to dialogue. Junqueras also took the occasion to reaffirm the Catalan Government's “commitment to carrying out a referendum on independence in Catalonia” in September 2017. The new Catalan budget has an allocation of €5.8 million for the referendum.
After the Council, Junqueras stated that he also expressed Catalonia’s concern for a possible global increase in interest rates, which could “complicate the management of the public debt”.
“A new way of doing politics”, says Montoro
In the press conference that followed the CPFF, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, stressed that the agreement between the Spanish Government and the majority of the Autonomous Communities “opens a new chapter and a new way of doing politics, with a willingness to agree in order to set the targets”. The Minister highlighted the fact that only three communities opposed the new deficit ceilings, which “means that there was a good atmosphere” at the meeting.
“The achievement of the deficit targets is essential for the credibility of the Spanish economy and the State of the Autonomies; it is also an element that will facilitate economic recovery and job creation”, he added. “It is important that all public administrations continue reducing their public deficit this year and the funding for public services we provide to citizens”, Montoro said.
Public debt goals for the Autonomous Communities
The CPFF also approved the public debt target for all of the Autonomous Communities for 2016. This was set at 24.4% of Spain’s GDP. The public debt goals for all the communities for the triennium 2017-2019 have been set as follows: 24.1% for 2017, 23.6% for 2018 and 22.7% for 2019.
The CPFF also formally approved the regional budget stability targets suggested by the Spanish Government for 2016. The public deficit target for the Autonomous Communities was set at 0.7% of Spanish GDP, which is the same percentage that was approved at the CPFF that took place last April and that was included in the budget plan submitted to the European Commission on the 14th of October. Initially, the limit had been set at 0.3%.