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Catalan Finance Minister calls the PP “obstructionist” for blocking next year’s budget

Andreu Mas-Colell, Catalan Finance Minister, considered the People’s Party (PP) to be “obstructionist” for blocking the approval of the Catalan Government’s budget for 2014, which was initially scheduled for this week. On Tuesday evening the PP – which runs the Spanish Government – confirmed it was freezing the implementation of the €29.31 billion budget because it included €5 million (0.0176% of the total spending) to fund “electoral processes and citizen consultations”. Mas-Colell warned that by delaying the budget’s implementation, the Catalan Government will lose revenue coming from new taxes and therefore it will have more difficulties meeting the deficit targets for 2014. All the parties in the Catalan Parliament criticised the PP’s initiative except the anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans (C’s), which backed the action.

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18 December 2013 02:41 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Andreu Mas-Colell, Catalan Finance Minister, considered the People’s Party (PP) to be “obstructionist” for blocking the approval of the Catalan Government’s budget for 2014, which was initially scheduled for this week. On Tuesday evening the PP – which runs the Spanish Government – confirmed it was freezing the implementation of the €29.31 billion budget because it included €5 million (0.0176% of the total spending) to fund “electoral processes and citizen consultations”. Mas-Colell warned that by delaying the budget’s implementation, the Catalan Government will lose revenue coming from new taxes and therefore it will have more difficulties meeting the deficit targets for 2014. All the parties in the Catalan Parliament criticised the PP’s initiative except the anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans (C’s), which backed the action.The PP holds 19 of the 135 seats in the Catalan Parliament, which is 14.1% of the total, and their highest ever representation in this chamber. Together with C’s, they represent 20.7% of the seats.


Andreu Mas-Colell said on Tuesday evening that preventing approval of the Catalan Government’s budget for next year “does not help” to meet the deficit target for next year, which is a paramount objective for Spain’s budget stability, closely watched by the European Union. Mas-Colell emphasised that thanks to the PP’s initiative, the budget will not come into force on January 1st, but a few weeks later. This means that the new taxes, fees and rates included in the budget will not be in place until the law’s definitive approval, which could be delayed until the end of January or in February.

For a few weeks the Catalan Government will not benefit from the new fiscal measures approved and, therefore, it will lose the corresponding revenue. Mas-Colell stressed that the money lost will be much more than the €5 million the PP wants to eliminate. Furthermore, there will be social spending measures and grants that will be delayed, such as the increase of Minimum Insertion Income (similar to Income Support). Mas-Colell stated that citizens in need will suffer the consequences of the PP’s decision. “They said they will not punish the daily life of Catalans for the conflict” regarding Catalonia’s self-determination and its hypothetical independence from Spain, but now the PP contradicts itself, according to Mas-Colell.

For these reasons, the Catalan Finance Minister hopes the PP will reconsider their decision. He insisted that the measure “creates nervousness”. “It only works to make life harder” he said. “I guess they do it to vent themselves, but they should find some other way”, Mas-Colell remarked.

Catalan parties criticise the PP’s initiative, but C’s backs it

The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), running the Catalan Government, declared that the PP’s attitude is “revengeful and resentful”. Furthermore, the CiU warned the PP that they will not change the budget, since democracy does not work like this and the budget will be approved by an absolute majority of the Catalan Parliament. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) – which is Catalonia’s second largest party and was also involved in drafting the budget – accused the PP of “filibusterism”. The ERC stated that the PP was “boycotting” the Catalan Parliament’s action. In addition, the pro-independence party emphasised that “the more vulnerable families” will be less protected, since they will not benefit from the “energy poverty” initiative, which will prevent energy companies cutting the supply of people in need during winter months.

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) – which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – also accused the PP of playing an “obstructionist” role. For the PSC it is “a great mistake”. In addition, they stated that the PP is only thinking about putting “obstacles”, but “they do not bring anything constructive to the debate”. The Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) also rejected the PP’s initiative.

The only party backing the PP was the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist partyCiutadans (C’s). Its Spokesperson, Jordi Cañas, stated that “the most anti-social budget with the most abusive measures in Catalonia’s history” deserves to be blocked. Cañas said they already wanted to take the initiative but they need support from another parliamentary group since they only have 9 MPs. Furthermore, he said they wanted the €5 million for “an illegal consultation” to be allocated “for school-canteen grants and Minimum Insertion Income”.

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  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, on Tuesday evening (by N. Julià)

  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, on Tuesday evening (by N. Julià)