Government pushes for 2023 budget deal this week
Opposition Socialists wonder about executive's willingness to negotiate spending plan
The Catalan 2023 budget deal should be a reality "no later than this week," the governing party Esquerra Republicana (ERC) said on Monday morning. The left-wing pro-independence group is pushing the opposition Socialist party (PSC) to reach an agreement regarding this year's spending plan, while the latter doubts the executive's willingness to negotiate.
Even if the deal should arrive this week, the currently solo-governing party said they do not want to put "any deadlines" on talks, as spokesperson Marta Vilalta said in a press conference.
"There are no problems," she added before accusing the Socialists of "blackmailing" ERC in the negotiations.
"ERC does not share the 'either everything or nothing,' or the 'if you do not follow through, we will step away' stance," Vilalta said about the PSC's requests.
"If someone wants to look for excuses not to approve the budget, they should come up with something more credible, but let there be no doubt about the will of the Catalan government or Esquerra Republicana to approve the budget," she added.
But for the Socialists, the ongoing negotiations make them wonder if the executive is serious about delivering a new spending plan.
"We offered our support in August," Salvador Illa, PSC leader, said in a press conference from the Basque Country.
"There has always been a will to reach a deal. But I don't know if the Catalan government also shares this will. We are open to negotiating but not to greenlighting the budget without any say," he said.
PSC's proposals are "essential," Illa said before continuing that "negotiating means to give up by everyone."
The statement arrives after Catalan president and member of ERC, Pere Aragonès, and Illa met on Saturday evening to try to unblock the negotiations.
The Socialists continue to urge the government to agree on three main projects: an airport expansion, a hotel-casino, and a new highway.
Support from anti-austerity party
The 2023 Catalan budget already has support from the anti-austerity party En Comú Podem after they reached a deal with the government on December 14.
After the agreement, however, the bill will still require further support from other parties, as ERC and ECP combined do not have a majority in the parliament.
27 parliamentary votes are still needed to see the 2023 spending plan passed. Therefore, that is why the cabinet is negotiating with PSC and Junts.
In early December, ECP's Albiach announced an initial agreement for the budget negotiations which will see certain measures extended for 2023, including the reduction in price of public transport, free transport for children under 16, and eligibility for the T-Jove card being expanded up to the age of 30.