Barcelona Chamber of Commerce accuses the Spanish Government of owing €4 billion for investments in Catalonia
According to the current legislation, the Spanish Government has to invest 18.9% of its total transport infrastructure budget in Catalonia between 2007 and 2013 in order to compensate for an historical lack of such investments. However, according to the Spanish Transport Ministry’s budget execution reports and the projections made by the Chamber, the Spanish Government is far from honouring this legal obligation. Not only have investments in Catalonia not increased in relative terms, but they have been reduced to a “historical minimum”. While the planned budget for transport investments has been reduced by an average of 36% throughout Spain due to the economic crisis, in Catalonia it has dropped by 50%. Furthermore, 87% of the planned budget was executed throughout Spain, while in Catalonia Madrid only executed 68% of it.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce issued a report in which it denounced the fact that the Spanish Government legally owes Catalonia \u20AC3.97 billion in transport infrastructure for the period between 2007 and 2013, in relation to the investments it made in other parts of Spain during that time. The amount owed in this area corresponds to 2% of Catalonia\u2019s GDP. According to the current legislation, the Spanish Government has to invest 18.9% of its total transport infrastructure budget in Catalonia for a seven-year period in order to compensate for an historical lack of such investments. Such lack of investment was acknowledged by the Spanish Parliament in 2006 and it then approved Catalonia receiving an investment share equivalent to at least its GDP within Spain\u2019s economy (18.9%) of the Spanish Government\u2019s investments in transport infrastructure for a seven-year period starting in 2007. However, according to the Spanish Transport Ministry budget execution reports since 2007 and the projections made by the Chamber for 2012 and 2013, the Spanish Government is far from honouring this legal obligation. Not only have investments in Catalonia not been equivalent to the Catalan GDP, but they have not even increased in relative terms compared to those made in the rest of Spain and in fact they have been reduced to a \u201Chistorical minimum\u201D, stated the Chamber\u2019s President Miquel Valls. While theSpanish Government\u2019s planned budget for transport investments has been reduced by an average of 36% throughout Spain due to the economic crisis, in Catalonia it has dropped by 50%. Furthermore, 87% of the planned budget was executed considering the Spanish average. However, in Catalonia, Madrid only executed 68% of it, which significantly increases the lack of investment.
The previous report by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce on this issue (issued in 2012) fixed the deficit at \u20AC2.66 billion, but in the last year the accumulated amount has reached \u20AC3.97 billion. This latest amount corresponds to 2% of Catalonia\u2019s GDP. Miquel Valls emphasised that such a lack of investment is another \u201Crecurrent\u201D failure made by the Spanish Government in regard to honouring legal commitments with Catalonia. The Chamber also emphasised that the missing investment amount already takes into account the budget reduction effect due to the economic crisis, which indirectly harms Catalonia because the historical compensation is in investment percentage terms and not in absolute figures.
The Catalan Government should be allowed a deficit target of 2.2% for 2013
Besides, the President of the Chamber of Commerce backed the Catalan Government\u2019s claim of having a higher deficit target for 2013, corresponding to a third of the deficit allowed by the European Union to Spain as a whole. Miquel Valls asked the Spanish Government to set a deficit target higher than 2% for the Catalan Executive in 2013, considering that Brussels has finally allowed a 6.5% deficit for Spain and the Autonomous Communities are responsible for 36% of the total Spanish public sector\u2019s spending \u2013 exclusively managing basic services such as education and healthcare. Ideally, according to the Chamber, the Catalonia\u2019s deficit target for 2013 should be 2.2%.
In addition, Valls underlined the fact that in the first 4 months of 2013, the Catalan Government reduced its non-financial spending by 13% while the Spanish Government increased theirs by 10.7%. According to Valls the difference will widen further as the Spanish Government is maintaining the salary bonuses given to all its civil servants, while the Catalan Government has reduced salaries in the public sector. For instance, Valls explained that, in the first 4 months of 2013, the Catalan Government reduced its spending on staff by 4.1% while the Spanish Government increased theirs by 0.5%. Furthermore, the purchase of goods and services was reduced by 32.2% by the Catalan Executive and only by 6.8% by the Spanish Government in that same period.