The Catalan Government provides explanations to the Parliament regarding social care organisations’ payments
The Catalan Social Affairs Minister, Josep Lluís Cleries, stated before the Catalan Parliament that €70 million had not been paid on time to health and social care organisations this August. He said he was sorry for the situation but underlined that the €50 million destined for private citizens had been paid. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, emphasised that, if the Spanish Government does not activate the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomous Communities and similar measures, he cannot guarantee the situation will not be repeated in the future. However, he said to be confident the Spanish Government will put these mechanisms in place soon. The Left-Wing opposition parties had requested the urgent hearings.
Barcelona (ACN).- This Friday the Catalan Government has provided explanations to the Catalan Parliament about not being able to pay health and social care organisations on time this August and delaying the payment to a future date. The parliamentary hearing had been requested by the Left-Wing opposition parties (PSC, ICV-EUiA, ERC and C\u2019s), an initiative also backed by the People\u2019s Party (PP). The Catalan Minister for Social Affairs, Josep Lluís Cleries, explained that the Catalan Government, run by the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), had not paid \u20AC70 million to health and social care organisations, most of them working with the elderly and people with disabilities. Child care centres and mental health institutions have been less affected by the situation. In addition, Cleries emphasised that private citizens registered in social care programmes had received \u20AC50 million, which means direct grants to some 200,000 people. Cleries apologised for the overall situation and praised the attitude of the affected organisations, which have guaranteed that the quality of the services provided will be maintained. In addition, he said that since the moment they knew about the situation, they contacted the organisations and the Social Affairs Department offered technical support for this August. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, stated that the situation will be repeated each month if the Spanish Government does not activate the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomous Communities and similar measures. The entire opposition asked the Catalan Government to issue a payment calendar and criticised them for the lack of self-criticism and planning. Mas-Collel stated that he \u201Ccannot draft a calendar, cannot guarantee anything. It depends on the Spanish Government\u201D. Nonetheless, Mas-Colell is confident that payments will be regularised this August.
At the end of July, the Catalan Government did not have enough cash flow to meet all the payments to be made in early August. Following the Financial Stability Law, it had to prioritise financial payments over regular expenditure. This means paying debt interests to the banks first and later paying the rest. The Catalan Finance Minister said that he is not \u201Cproud\u201D of not being able to pay health and social care organisations, but he explained that this August the Catalan Government has not paid subsidies, service providers (phoning, cleaning, lightening etc.) and the rent of its buildings. He was confident payments will be made at the end of August.
Mas-Colell criticised the Spanish Government for not ensuring the Catalan Executive\u2019s liquidity now that access to financial markets is impossible. \u201CThis has not only happened to us, it is about to happen to the Kingdom of Spain\u201D, he said. He insisted as well that Catalonia is entitled to ask for financing from the Spanish Government, since it contributes a significant amount to the Spanish Treasury. In addition, he criticised the measures adopted by the Spanish Government to transfer resources to the Autonomies, which cannot raise taxes (except the Basque Country and Navarra). According to Mas-Colell these financial tools are not an efficient way of ensuring liquidity, since they are interrupted, they are delayed, or they are extended, etc. He mentioned funds such as those used for paying providers, local corporations or debt interests.
Mas-Colell said that the Catalan Government \u201Cis keen to use\u201D the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomies, \u201Csince we understand it is a normal and regular tool to get liquidity\u201D. However, the Catalan Government \u201Cwill not sign a blank cheque\u201D, without knowing what the conditions will be. Mas-Colell asked this fund to be in place \u201Cas soon as possible\u201D. Finally, referring to the payments that were impossible to make to social care organisations on time this month, he warned that \u201Cthe Spanish Government and the institution to which we contribute a lot of tax must send us liquidity, or this problem will be repeated each month\u201D. Nonetheless, Mas-Colell is confident that payments will be regularised this August.