Spain to spend 2.25bn euros in Catalonia as part of proposed budget

At 18.5%, total is less than 19.2% Catalan contribution to Spain's GDP; spending plan unlikely to succeed in Congress

The Spanish finance minister, María Jesús Montero (second from left), presenting the proposed 2019 budget (by Tània Tàpia)
The Spanish finance minister, María Jesús Montero (second from left), presenting the proposed 2019 budget (by Tània Tàpia) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 14, 2019 05:10 PM

The Spanish government's proposed budget for 2019 foresees total expense of 2.25 billion euros for Catalonia, 18.5% of public spending for Spain as a whole.

The figure is 901 million euros more than the 1.34 billion euros allocated to Catalonia in the 2018 budget, which accounted for 13.3% of total spending in Spain.

However, despite the increase, according to the most recent figures from 2017, Catalonia contributes 19.2% of Spanish GDP.

Subject to parliamentary vote on February 12 and 13, it is still not clear whether the pro-independence parties will support the budget.

Pedro Sánchez's Socialist government was able to take power largely thanks to the support of pro-independence parties, and will again need their votes to pass the budget.

Spanish government, "optimistic" about pro-independence support

On Friday, the Spanish finance minister, María Jesús Montero, said she was "optimistic" about getting the support of the pro-independence parties for the budget.

Yet, the main pro-independence parties, ERC and PDeCAT, have linked their support for the budget with a gesture by the Spanish executive towards their jailed political leaders and an agreed referendum on self-determination, which Madrid has so far rejected.

The PDeCAT leadership, who on Monday were in Belgium to meet with former president Carles Puigdemont, maintained the intention to reject the budget "because Mr Sánchez has made no move," said party president, David Bonvehí.

While reserving the right of the party to change its position "until the last moment," Puigdemont tied support for the budget with setting up a "bilateral board for dialogue" to find a "political solution" for Catalonia.

ERC also reiterated its refusal to support, with spokeswoman Marta Vilalta saying there is a "very high chance" the party will reject the proposed budget, with a final decision to be taken in the next few days.

PSC insists budget means "significant progress"

Yet, the Catalan wing of the Socialist party urged ERC and PDeCAT to support the budget: "I'd like to see the pro-independence parties, who say they defend Catalonia's interests, to vote in favor, because the budget is significant progress," said the PSC's José Zaragoza.

The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce also called on the pro-independence parties to support the budget. Chamber president, Miquel Valls, said the Spanish government's spending plan represented "the fulfilment of a historic claim."

Meanwhile, Cs, the main opposition party in Catalonia, said it would not vote for the budget, saying "a budget negotiated with parties who want to eliminate the unity of Spain's citizens can never be good for them," in the words of Cs MP, Nacho Martín Blanco.