Catalan budget 2024 foresees over €1bn in spending to face extreme drought

President urges parties to "put aside party interests" to "build consensus"

Catalan president Pere Aragonès speaking in Parliament
Catalan president Pere Aragonès speaking in Parliament / Nico Tomás
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 20, 2024 06:59 PM

February 20, 2024 07:57 PM

Although the 2024 Catalan budget has not yet been presented, today the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, revealed that the bill foresees spending of over €1 billion to face the extreme drought situation.

Aragonès announced that €1.045 billion will combat the "most important drought [Catalonia] has ever seen."

The president made the remarks in the Catalan parliament today during a special plenary session on drought and climate change, and urged the need "now more than ever" to have the spending plan approved.

The executive is backed by only the 33 MPs of Aragonès' party, pro-independence Esquerra Republicana, out of the total of 135 in the chamber. This means that the Catalan government will need to negotiate with at least two other parties to gather enough support to have the budget bill passed.

The money will be destined for improving infrastructure, producing more water, improving the water supply network, and improving irrigation systems.

The government has also, according to Aragonès, made an "unquestionable leap forward" towards a fair energy transition "after years that it had not been a priority."

Despite this sizeable investment planned, Aragonès warned that he does not want to deceive anyone, as without rain, "complex months and difficult times" lie ahead.

To deal with this, the president wants to "work together" with other parties to find solutions, and made a call to "put aside party interests" and to "know how to listen and build consensus."

The plenary session began this Tuesday and will end on Thursday with the votes on the resolution proposals.

Rebukes from opposition

Opposition parties rebuked the government for the management of the drought, the lack of foresight shown, and the lack of infrastructure and investments to deal with the severe drought situation.

The Socialists and Junts offered to "help" but have demanded "a change of course" from the government.

Salvador Illa, leader of the Catalan Socialists, urged for action and demanded that they carry out the pending investments to deal with the drought.

Illa asked Aragonès to enable a space to coordinate with different parliamentary groups, which he said could be both multilateral and bilateral. "I think it has to articulate more fluid mechanisms," he insisted.

Pro-independence Junts per Catalunya called for "an urgent change of direction" in the management of the drought, "abandoning confrontation to promote cooperation."

Albert Batet offered help to the executive and urged him to convene a new "country summit" with all the parties to seek "country solutions" to drought. "It's no use putting yourself out there and for the solution to come from Madrid," Batet warned.

Far-left CUP MP Dani Cornellà validated climate minister David Mascort and affirmed that 75% of the development of the climate change law has been reached, but still warned that there is still "a lot of work to do."

Head of left-wing En Comú Podem, Jéssica Albiach, demanded that specific water restrictions be applied for the tourism sector and that investments be financed to deal with the drought. She has also demanded ecological planning in the face of "inequality and chaos."

Leader of the far-right Vox party in Catalonia, Ignacio Garriga, asked the government for "less slogans and more actions" to combat the drought, while denying climate change. He rallied against Aragonès because they consider that he is "making the most defenseless pay the costs" of the drought.

Centre-right Ciudadanos head Carlos Carrizosa criticized the short-term policy of the Catalan government. "Of all the regional governments, it is the least mobile, the weakest, and the one lacking a medium and long-term strategy," he criticized.

The right-wing People's Party also criticized that the government has been "late and bad" and has demanded more "speed" both in the execution of investments and in eliminating the bureaucratic hurdles that can be encountered by local councils and individuals to request aid.