All parties in Catalonia, except the PP, are against the Spanish Government’s Budget for 2012
CiU stated that it will be “absurd” that they support the current budget proposal in the Spanish Parliament although they are open to negotiate and modify it. Furthermore, CiU “does not rule out the possibility of taking the Spanish Government to court” for ignoring the current legislation. The Socialists directly considered the budget proposal “to mistreat Catalonia”. The Green Socialists ask for a “common Catalan front” against the budget. The Catalan Independence parties (ERC and SI) say the budget plunders Catalonia. The anti-Catalan nationalists stated the budget wants to please Merkel. The only party supporting the budget was the PP, which runs the Spanish Government.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday the Spanish Government presented in Madrid its budget proposal for 2012. The same Tuesday and over all Wednesday, all Catalan political parties, except the People\u2019s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, have heavily criticised the budget proposal. Furthermore, even the Catalan Government is openly against them. The main reason behind such transversal and vocal opposition is the drastic spending reduction included in the proposal that directly affects Catalonia, hitting its citizens, its economy, and its institutions. The Spanish Government foresees a reduction of 45% of its direct spending on projects in Catalonia. Beyond the percentage, the main problems are two: Catalonia is the Autonomous Community with the highest spending reduction and the budget proposal directly violates the current legislation defining Spain\u2019s territorial fiscal scheme or, in other words, how Catalonia is funded. The Spanish Government\u2019s proposal has simply ignored the legislation currently in place and it seems to be willing to impose its own criteria. Furthermore, all the parties coincide on the lack of measures supporting an economic recovery and productive infrastructure.
The Catalan Transport Minister said it \u201Cinvests in high-speed dead-ends\u201D
The Catalan Minister for Transport and Public Works, Lluís Recoder, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition \u2018Convergència i Unió\u2019 (CiU), said on Wednesday that the budget \u201Cinvests in high-speed dead-ends and neglects essential infrastructure\u201D. Recoder denounced the investment in the railway connection of Barcelona harbour that will be once again delayed, funds for the Mediterranean Railway Corridor will be reduced, as well as many planned road connections will be put on hold. To sum up, none of the infrastructure the Catalan Government considered a priority will receive enough funds. In fact, many mayors and local politicians throughout Catalonia are also against a budget proposal that leaves many planned and even half-executed road construction in the air. However, as Recoder pointed out, the Spanish budget foresees funds to build high-speed railway infrastructure in zones in Spain with neither significant business, tourist or industrial activity, nor with a high density population.
The Catalan Government \u201Cdoes not like\u201D the budget \u201Cat all\u201D
Recoder has not been the only person from the Catalan Government to be vocal against the budget. The Executive\u2019s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, who is also one of CiU\u2019s leaders, stated yesterday in a press conference that they \u201Cdo not like\u201D the budget proposal presented by the Spanish Government for the current year \u201Cat all\u201D. Furthermore on Wednesday, Homs added that he would consider \u201Cabsurd\u201D the idea of CiU supporting the Spanish Parliament on the budget proposal, without \u201Cthe consignation of the pending debts\u201D to Catalonia. Nonetheless, he emphasised that what was yesterday presented in Madrid is just a proposal, and that there are still around two months to negotiate in order to modify the Spanish Government\u2019s budget.
CiU hopes to be able to negotiate, but it also considers going to court
The PP has an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament and mathematically does not need votes from any other party. However, CiU\u2019s votes, as in other occasions, could give the budget more political legitimacy, especially taking into account the severe adjustment with tax increases and drastic spending reductions. Furthermore, CiU has approved the past two Catalan budgets with the PP\u2019s support in the Catalan Parliament, since CiU does not have an absolute majority.
With this political landscape, Homs said that the agreement with the PP in Catalonia is different from the Spanish Government\u2019s budget. In fact, CiU is avoiding a direct confrontation with the PP because of Catalan politics and because it still hopes to negotiate \u201Cuntil the last minute\u201D to modify the budget. However, a Spanish MP from CiU, Josep Sánchez Llibre said that they \u201Cdo not rule out the possibility of taking the Spanish Government to court\u201D if the budget does not respect Catalonia\u2019s funding scheme. Nonetheless, he emphasised they will put all their efforts in to negotiations in the Spanish Parliament.
The PSC believe the budget \u201Cmistreats Catalonia\u201D
The main opposition party in Catalonia, which is also part of the main opposition force in the Spanish Parliament, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) was particularly against the budget proposal for 2012. The PSC\u2019s Economic Spokesperson, Rocío Martínez-Sampere, accused the Spanish Government of \u201Cmistreating Catalonia\u201D with yesterday\u2019s budget proposal, \u201Cthe strongest mistreatment in our democratic history\u201D. Furthermore, she asked the President of the Catalan Government to stop agreeing with the PP, \u201Cthe party that mistreats Catalonia the most\u201D.
Besides, according to the PSC\u2019s calculation, the presented budget would have an economic impact of \u20AC4.983 billion in the Catalan Government\u2019s budget. Martínez-Sampere sustained that the Catalan Government will need to adjust its own budget, since it will be missing more than \u20AC4.983 billion with yesterday\u2019s proposal. The revenue coming from taxes totally or partially devolved will drop by \u20AC2.61 billion, according to the PSC. Furthermore, \u20AC1.09 billion corresponding to 2010 will be lost due to the decrease in the definitive revenues, once the definitive budget has been accounted. In addition, the PSC adds \u20AC1.27 billion from transfers not included in the budget, \u20AC160 million from tax reductions agreed between CiU and the PP, and \u20AC488 million that have excessively been included as expected revenues for 2012. All and all it is \u201Cmessing us around\u201D.
The PP justifies the budget
The leaders of the PP in Catalonia have justified the budget presented by members of their party running the Spanish Government. Enric Millo, Spokesperson for the PP at the Catalan Parliament, has completely ruled out any discrimination against Catalonia. Millo emphasised \u201Ca global vision\u201D of the budget and shows that they \u201Ccannot satisfy all the autonomies\u201D. He also claimed that the attention is being focused on the \u201Csmall parts that are not being fulfilled\u201D, instead of \u201Clooking at the full half of the glass\u201D. He also said that the budget includes more than \u20AC14 billion in additional funds for regional funding, which are still to be allocated. Millo underlined that \u201Cthe Spanish Government\u2019s will is to end up paying\u201D what corresponds to it. He blamed the previous Socialist Government for not paying the debts to Catalonia and for the current financial situation, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is facing.
ICV asks for a \u201Ccommon front\u201D against the budget
The Spokesperson for the Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV), Laia Ortiz, asked for a \u201CCatalan common front\u201D against the Spanish Government\u2019s budget. Ortiz particularly asked CiU, running the Catalan Government and occasionally agreeing with the PP, to join the front. She criticised the mild reaction of the Catalan Government and asked them to act \u201Cwith dignity\u201D and \u201Csay enough\u201D to the Spanish Government. Ortiz assessed the budget to be very negative, \u201Cdictated by the European Right-Wing\u201D, as Spain is already \u201Cintervened\u201D. Jordi Miralles, the Coordinator of the Communist coalition associated to ICV, EUiA, stated that the 2012 budget is \u201Cthe most restrictive and antisocial of our democracy\u2019s history\u201D.
ERC states that dialogue bridges with Spain are broken
The Deputy Spokesperson for the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), Oriol Amorós, stated that the dialogue bridges with Spain are over. He accused the Spanish Government of having \u201Cdynamited\u201D the dialogue with Catalan parties. He stated that the budget presented is \u201Cvery belligerent\u201D against Catalonia and demanded \u201Ca strong stance by the Catalan Government\u201D. He said that he understands that \u201Cthe Catalan Government wants to explore all the possibilities for dialogue, but now they are no longer there\u201D. The day before, ERC Spokesperson at the Catalan Parliament, Anna Simó, stated that the budget \u201Cdoes not take us anywhere\u201D. She asked CiU \u201Cto give up agreeing with the PP\u201D. She also urged the Catalan Government and CiU to push for a new fiscal agreement with Spain.
The two minority parties also criticise the budget
The two minority parties at the Catalan Parliament, which represent antagonist views, also criticised the budget. The radical Catalan Independence Party \u2018Solidaritat per la Independència\u2019 (SI) stated that the best thing to happen would be to have \u201CSpain intervened\u201D by international organisations and foreign governments. SI Spokesperson, Alfons López Tena said that the budget contributes to increase the possibilities of such an intervention. The populist Anti-Catalan Nationalism Party \u2018Ciutadans\u2019 (C\u2019s) emphasised that the budget only guarantees \u201Cbeing a good pupil of Merkel\u201D, but not economic recovery. C\u2019s Spokesperson, Jordi Cañas, lamented that the budget proposal turns the citizen rights, the Welfare State, and Spain\u2019s economic future into \u201Cvictims\u201D.