Government's 2020 budget foresees rise in spending and revenue
Proposed bill to be passed before fresh Catalan election sees health and education take the lion's share of €36bn in public funds
On Wednesday morning, president Quim Torra announced that he would call a fresh election in Catalonia once a budget had been passed in parliament. In the evening, the proposed spending plan that will precede a new trip to the ballot boxes was made public.
The bill put forward by the government, which is made up of the two main pro-independence parties now at odds over the row about Torra losing his MP status, foresees an increase in spending of 3.07 billion euros, taking the 24.4 billion euros in 2017 to 27.5 billion in 2020.
If all other government expenditure for 2020 is taken into account, such as the amount devoted to paying back public debt, and not merely the funds that will go to each department, the total amount for the bill comes to some 36 billion euros.
However, the budget also foresees more funds coming into the government's coffers, with a revenue increase of 4.17 billion euros, to a total revenue of 26.8 billion euros, an 18.4% increase on the 22.6 billion euros agreed in the last budget for 2017.
Government departments get funding boost
The government departments that will get the biggest boost in funding should the bill successfully pass are the health department (an extra €908m), the education department (up €819m), and the work, social affairs and families department (€387m).
Meanwhile, in percentage terms,the government departments that will see less of an increase in their budgets are the vice presidency and presidency departments, with the digital policy and foreign action departments seeing the biggest rise in funding.
Health, education and employment top spending
In public spending, health and education are the areas that will get almost half of government spending in 2020, with the former accounting for a total of 9.73 billion euros of the total budget, or 27%, and with the latter to get 6.69 billion euros, or 18.6% of the total.
Next comes funding for local institutions, at 5.5 billion euros, or 15.3% of the total, then infrastructure and mobility at 2.7 billion euros (7.7%), social protection at 2.2 billion euros (6.4%), and 1.3 billion, or 3.9% of the total budget, for security and civil protection.
Budget arrives in parliament by phone
The budget bill was presented to parliament by vice president Pere Aragonès, who, in an eye-catching departure from convention, carried out the official handover to speaker Roger Torrent via mobile phone.
During the handover, Torrent revealed that the budget, which has the support of the government parties and the leftwing Catalunya en Comú Podem party, will go to the vote in the chamber during a plenary session on March 18.