The Catalan Ombudsman states its resolutions cost 14 times less than those of the Spanish Ombudsman
The Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, accused the Spanish Government of trying “to manipulate” data in its report last week, in order to push forward a recentralisation reform, which “goes against the self-government principle”. Ribó explained that the Spanish Ombudsman undertook 33,849 actions in 2012, which means each action cost an average of €428. In addition, it refused to accept 20,164 complaints. Meanwhile, the Catalan Ombudsman undertook 25,073 actions, with a cost of €279 each. The Catalan institution only rejected 267 complaints. Regarding resolutions and recommendations, the Spanish Ombudsman issued 548 while the Catalan body issued 3,635. This means that each resolution by the Spanish body cost €26,447 while the Catalan’s cost €1,925, which is 13.75 times less.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Friday, the Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, answered the report issued a week ago by the Spanish Government, in which it was written that the Catalan Ombudsman\u2019s actions cost the double those made by the Spanish equivalent. Ribó accused the Spanish Government of \u201Clying to the public\u201D and of trying \u201Cto manipulate\u201D data in order to push forward a recentralisation reform. According to Ribó, the Spanish Executive\u2019s reform of the public sector clearly \u201Cgoes against the self-government principle\u201D. With data from 2012, Ribó explained that the Spanish Ombudsman undertook 33,849 actions, which means each action cost an average of \u20AC428. In addition, it refused to accept 20,164 complaints. Meanwhile, the Catalan Ombudsman undertook 25,073 actions, with a cost of \u20AC279 each. The Catalan institution only rejected 267 complaints. Ribó stated that, according to this data, the Catalan institution is \u201Cone and a half time more efficient than the Spanish Ombudsman\u201D. Furthermore, regarding resolutions and recommendations, the Spanish Ombudsman issued 548 while the Catalan body issued 3,635, 6.6 times more. Furthermore, each resolution by the Spanish body cost \u20AC26,447 while the Catalan equivalent cost \u20AC1,925, which is 13.75 times less. In 2012, the Spanish Ombudsman had a budget of \u20AC14.5 million, while the Catalan Ombudsman had a budget of \u20AC7 million.
Last week, the Spanish Government presented a reform of the public sector that officially aims to eliminate “duplicities” between levels of government. However, the Spanish Executive’s plan mostly focuses on eliminating Autonomous Communities’ bodies, even though their creation was stated in the Statutes of Autonomy – which is the main law in an Autonomous Community, approved by the Spanish Parliament and through a binding referendum. In addition, it goes against the decentralisation spirit that shaped the Spanish Constitution and the Democratic regime of the last 35 years. Therefore, from Catalonia, this reform is seen with scepticism, as an attempt to recentralise power and reduce that of the Autonomous Communities, notably that of the Catalan Government. Many voices from Catalonia criticised the Spanish Government for asking the Autonomies to eliminate institutions fully recognised by the current legal framework but at the same time keeping ministries open with hundreds of civil servants despite their competences having been transferred decades ago.
The Spanish Government’s report
In its report, the Spanish Government mentioned the Autonomous Community Ombudsman as one of the bodies that should be eliminated. According to the report issued last week, each action of the Catalan Ombudsman cost, on average, twice of the Spanish Ombudsman. Madrid’s report explained that the Spanish institution had a budget of €14 million and that with only €2 more million, it could absorb the work done by all the Autonomous Community Ombudsmen. However, according to the data presented on Friday by the Catalan Ombudsman Rafael Ribó, this seems totally unfeasible. In addition, the Catalan Ombudsman accused the Spanish Government of “lying” and “hiding data”, by “manipulating the presentation [of the data] in a totally unacceptable way”. For instance, Ribó explained that the Spanish Government report merges data from 2013 to refer to the Spanish Ombudsman and data from 2012 to refer to the Autonomous Community bodies, insisting that public budgets in 2012 “were obviously higher” than those from 2013.
According to him, the Catalan institution is much more efficient than its Spanish counterpart and, proportionally, is much more active. Furthermore, Ribó has chaired the European branch of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI-Europe) and has made a significant effort to participate in international conferences. In fact, Ribó accused the Spanish Government of ignoring international recommendations to foster local ombudsmen, following the proximity principle. He also added that if Autonomous Community Ombudsmen were eliminated, Spain would be the only country in the world recentralising this public service.
Ribó stated that he understands the need to rationalise public spending in the current situation. In this vein, he emphasised that this can be proved by looking at the Catalan Ombudsman’s budget, which has decreased by 32.92% since 2009. The Spanish institution reduced its budget by 12.1% in the same period. Furthermore, in the last year the budget reduction has been 15%. “We are doing it while we are experiencing a larger demand”, he explained. In addition he added that the Spanish Ombudsman’s budget decreased by only 3% in 2013 compared to 2012.
The Catalan Ombudsman issued 560% more resolutions than its Spanish counterpart
The Spanish Ombudsman, with a budget of €14 million, undertook 33,849 actions in 2012. The Catalan Ombudsman, with a budget of €7 million, undertook 25,073 actions that same year. The cost per action is €428 euros for the Spanish institution and €279 for the Catalan, which works out as 35% cheaper. In addition, the Spanish Ombudsman refused to accept 20,164 complaints, while the Catalan institution only refused 267 complaints. The Spanish Ombudsman concluded 5,126 files in 2012, while the Catalan Ombudsman concluded 8,386 files. On top of this, the Spanish Ombudsman issued 548 resolutions and recommendations last year. However, the Catalan Ombudsman issued 3,635 resolutions and recommendations in the same period, which is 560% more. Finally, looking at the cost per resolution, the Spanish Ombudsman’s resolutions and recommendations cost an average of €26,447 to the tax payers. Those by the Catalan institution have an average cost of €1,925. The recommendations issued by the institution based in Madrid cost 13.75 times more than those from the one based in Barcelona. All the figures come from each organisation’s activity report from 2012.
The Catalan Ombudsman was created in 1984, a few years after the fall of Franco’s dictatorship and the repression of the Catalan language and culture by the Spanish public power. Nowadays, the Catalan Ombudsman listens to citizen complaints regarding public services and the respect of fundamental rights. This institution has particularly targeted Barcelona’s Zona Franca Detention Centre for Foreigners, run by the Spanish Home Affairs Ministry, creating contention between the Spanish Government and Catalan powers about possible violations of human rights.