Esquerra and Socialists reach agreement on Catalan budget for 2024

Spending increases by €2.4bn, with €1bn for drought and higher spending on health and culture

Catalan president Pere Aragonès and Catalan Socialists leader Salvador Illa
Catalan president Pere Aragonès and Catalan Socialists leader Salvador Illa / Mariona Puig
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 27, 2024 09:33 AM

February 28, 2024 04:36 PM

The Catalan government, led by pro-independence Esquerra Republicana, and the Socialist Party have reached an agreement on the Catalan budget for 2024, as announced by both parties in a statement on Tuesday.

Catalan president Pere Aragonès and the leader of the Catalan Socialists, Salvador Illa will sign the agreement at 4pm on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Catalan government.

However, the accounts still need the support or abstention of a third group to be approved, with the government confident of gaining the support of left-wing Catalunya en Comú.

In response to the new budget, the Comuns said it was "totally insufficnent" and insist that it is "essential" that the Hard Rock project be abandoned.

The government will approve the budgets in an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Council on Wednesday and they are expected to be debated in Parliament in mid-March.

Budget sees €2.4bn increase

The 2024 budget will see an increase in spending of €2.4 billion, 6.3% more than previous budgets.

In response to the severe drought in Catalonia, Aragonès announced €1 billion for drought relief and an additional €120 million to support local councils.

Education spending will increase by 9.5% to over €7 billion, following the poor PISA test results for Catalan students.

As previously reported by the Catalan News Agency (ACN), 1.7% of the total 2024 budget will be allocated to culture, approaching the 2% target set by Esquerra.

The government and the Socialists have also agreed to add 4,000 new homes to Catalonia's social rental housing stock during 2024, aiming to reach a total of 10,000 between 2023 and 2026.

In the industry sector, the agreement includes an additional €47.7 million in direct support, reaching €165 million.

The budget also allocates €57 million to the financing of the Barcelona metro underground public transport system, with works on several lines and stations.

Catalan healthcare strengthened

The health sector will receive an increase of €144 million for primary care, which represents 25% of the total health budget.

The budget also includes €110 million to reduce waiting lists and €110 million to increase financial support for health centers.

Another €420 million will go towards fulfilling agreements with nurses on pay and working conditions after months of strikes in Catalonia.

In addition, there will be €127 million for the construction and expansion of hospitals.

Deal omits controversial Hard Rock

The 17-page document makes no mention of the Hard Rock casino complex, a controversial tourist development planned next to the Port Aventura amusement park in Tarragona.

The Hard Rock project has been a point of contention in recent negotiations and was a stumbling block in previous budget talks.

Last year, the government promised to approve the Urban Development Plan (PDU) for the complex, a crucial step for its realization.

However, the PDU has yet to be approved, and its status was a condition set by the Socialists for supporting the current budgets.

The Socialists' leader, Salvador Illa, explained that the omission of the Hard Rock project from the written agreement was because it was already addressed in the agreement of last year.

Last week, Aragonès admitted that the Hard Rock project will go forward, although "not with enthusiasm."

In order to approve the budgets, the Socialists and Esquerra need the abstention of anti-austerity Comuns, who strongly oppose the Hard Rock project.