The Catalan Government and the People’s Party reach an agreement on the 2011 budget
The deal introduces new restrictions on public spending while protecting health, education and social services. The conservatives have asked the Government to change its foreign policy strategy and make it more commercially oriented.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Government, lead by Convergència i Unió (CiU), has secured the People\u2019s Party (PP) support for the 2011 Budget. The deal was confirmed on Friday by the PP leader, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, who said that her party will abstain on the vote on 20-21 July to allow the budget bill to pass. The agreement introduces new restrictions on public spending, so that public expenditure will never be higher than the Catalan GDP.
The Government and the PP have agreed on a number of spending cuts and on changes in public companies, that will have to become smaller in size. Both parties agreed that the health budget and spending in education and social services should be more protected. The agreement also includes a compromise by the Catalan government to change its foreign policy. The PP wants Catalan delegations abroad to be more commercially oriented rather than politically oriented, and has asked the government to coordinate its activities with the Spanish embassies. Sánchez-Camacho said that the PP is giving \u201Cthe most responsible and constructive\u201D opposition in the Catalan Parliament, allowing the government to go ahead with their austerity measures and avoiding a \u201Ccrisis\u201D. The other parties in the opposition, the Socialist Party (PSC), the Left-Wing Catalan Party (ERC) and the Greens criticised the deal between the PP and the government. The socialists said that the government has reached an agreement with the conservatives \u201Cbecause it wanted to do so\u201D. \u201CWe haven\u2019t been asked to participate in the agreement\u201D, said the leader of the opposition, Joaquim Nadal. He said the deal will provoke a \u201Ctrend towards right-wing policies\u201D in the government. Joan Puigcercós, from ERC, said that Artur Mas and Sánchez-Camacho reached a deal because they have a \u201Cpolitical plan to work together\u201D. Puigcercós said that the government could have negotiated with ERC if it had wanted. The leader of the Greens, Joan Herrera, said that the agreement should be defined as a \u201Cshameful deal\u201D. Herrera criticised the Catalan executive for working with the Spanish conservatives, because, according to him, the PP \u201Cscorns and asks for signatures against the self-government of Catalonia and fights against the Catalan language\u201D. The Catalan President, Artur Mas, said that he offered the possibility to reach a deal to all the parties in parliament, and with the same conditions. \u201CI said to them: do not give us support, only bear in mind that we have a good majority and abstain in the vote, criticise us if you want, but abstain because this budget must pass\u201D. According to Mas, none of the parties but the PP accepted this \u201Creasonable\u201D offer.