Budget 2020 to be passed with certainty that Covid-19 will force its amendment
Vice president says spending will be reorganized for containment of virus and economic reconstruction
Catalonia will have a new budget for the first time in three years this Friday evening – if nothing unexpected happens – as parliament will debate and vote on the spending plan.
The government is certain it will be successful after its deal with the anti-austerity opposition party Catalunya en Comú – Podem in January.
Yet, the content of the budget bill was finalized in January, before the Covid-19 outbreak, meaning neither the estimations of income nor the distribution of spending fits with the situation now.
Some opposition parties have been saying that the project will be born outdated, and even the government has admitted the health crisis will oblige them to amend it.
Yet, President Torra's executive have defended the importance of passing it because this will unlock an extra 3 billion euros of public spending compared to the last one passed in 2017 – which was extended for 2018, 2019 and the first months of 2020.
On Friday, Pere Aragonès, the cabinet's vice president and economy minister, said that the spending plan will be reorganized for the containment of the virus and the economic reconstruction.
In an interview with the public broadcaster TV3, he said that the government has designed a three-phase plan.
The first phase would guarantee "all the necessary resources" to stop the pandemic – 100 million euros of the contingency fund has already been transferred to the health department.
The second phase would be guaranteeing the liquidity of firms and families – the government has already postponed some taxes and maintained some public contracts to avoid job losses.
And the last phase would be reconstructing the country economically. The government is assuming a scenario of around 20% unemployment and more than 10% drop in GDP – and its president, Quim Torra, has already offered all parties and wider society to form part of an agreement to move forward.
Aragonès said that each department will maintain the amount allotted in the budget, but the distribution in spending items could change, and he ruled out pay cuts for public workers.