What you need to know about the 2022 Catalan budget in 7 highlights
Gender policies and climate action among priorities, while culture and R&D receive more funding but still far from EU average
The 2022 Catalan budget, presented on Tuesday by the economy minister, Jaume Giró, is not certain to succeed because the government lacks a majority in the chamber and none of the opposition forces have guaranteed their support.
Yet, if implemented, it would mean an all-time high in terms of public expenditure, with €38.1 billion, including significant increases in the funds allocated to gender policies, climate action, culture, education and health – 74.6% of spending will be allocated to social policies, an all-time high.
The figures in the spending plan are practically endless, so here is a summary of the seven main highlights:
Public spending up by 17.3% in two years
The 2020 budget, the last one approved, was the first one that surpassed the levels seen prior to the post-financial crisis cuts ten years ago.
In 2022, the upwards trend continues with a significant surge compared to two years ago, 17.3%, and an even more remarkable difference compared to 2014, the post-crisis low: it is up 46.3%.
Health and education account for half of spending increases
Catalonia will spend €5.02 billion more on public policies compared to two years ago – and half of the new allocation will go to the health (29%) and education (20.1%) departments.
Social rights (18%), digital policies (10.2%) and climate action (6%) also get a meaningful share of the extra €5 billion.
Extra €500 million to face Covid-19, is one of the policies outlined in the budget, alongside mental health, free kindergarten for 2-year-olds, the ongoing construction of Barcelona’s L9 and L10 metro lines, and raising awareness about the environment.
Gender policies, climate action, and social rights: main priorities
Another way of looking at the priorities is by examining the percentage growth for each government department, rather than the overall figures.
This is the first budget of the Pere Aragonès mandate – and the two new ministries he created are granted much more funding than in 2020, when some of their policies were part of other ministries. Gender policies grow by 99.1%, climate by 34.2% and social rights by 30.5%. Some €149 million will be spent on a fund for climate and natural heritage, and the fight against gender violence will also be a priority.
Spending on culture on the rise but far from 2% goal
Spending on culture has seen a €85.2 million increase compared to 2020 to reach €385 million – that represents 1.3% of the total budget, a 0.2-point rise, but is still far from the EU average (1.5% in the period between 2013 and 2020) and also far from the 2% goal set by Aragonès for the end of his term.
The cabinet is, in particular, focusing on popular culture, including facilities, and promoting the use of Catalan language.
Money for research approaches EU average
If they succeed in persuading the opposition, the government will allocate €827 million to research and development, €212 million more than in 2020. Around 2% of public spending will go to R&D (1.7% in 2020), which brings it close to the EU average (2.18% in 2018).
Investing in public universities and trying to hunt international talent are among the policies planned.
Funding on housing doubles amid crisis
Housing prices are skyrocketing, especially rents, and while the government had granted €339 million to such policies in 2020, the 2022 figure more than doubles the previous one to reach €749 million – guaranteeing access to a home for vulnerable people and expanding the number of homes available for social rent by 3,300 are some of the priorities.
EU funds account for almost half of extra income
Catalonia expects to have €1.95 billion extra coming from EU Covid recovery funds, accounting for almost half of the €5 billion increase the 2022 budget foresees compared to two years before. In taxes, no major changes will be seen, with rates not expected to change: income tax will see €1.29 billion more than in 2020, with €200 million more from environmental taxes.