The Catalan President rejects raising taxes and states that a 10% budget cut is enough
Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan Government answered the Spanish Vice President for Economy, who yesterday suggested that he should raise taxes. He also wants to stop the debate about which percentage of the public expenditure should be cut, after the insistence from Madrid to go beyond the 10%. The Advisory Council for the Economic Recovery met today for the first time. Mas also announced a Catalan summit on economic recovery scheduled for the 25th of March.
Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, ensured that he will not cut the public expenditure beyond the 10% already announced. With these words, Mas wanted to end the debate about how much his Government should cut the public expenditure. Mas had already announced it would be 10%, but in the last two days, leaks from the Spanish Government were putting pressure to apply cuts beyond 10%. Even yesterday, the Spanish Vice President for Economy, Elena Salgado, suggested that a way to balance the budget is raising taxes to reach the deficit objective of 1.3% for 2011. Salgado\u2019s words were taken in Catalonia as clear pressure. The Catalan President wanted to clarify that he would not raise taxation. \u201CThe recipe is not raising taxes. In Catalonia they are higher than other Spanish territories\u201D. In fact, Mas recalled that Catalonia already had one of the highest taxation levels in Spain, that Catalonia suffers from an historical fiscal deficit due to the high levels of regional redistribution and that the Spanish Government owes money to Catalonia from the last years\u2019 budgets.
In a press conference at the seat of the Catalan presidency, the Generalitat Palace, Mas wanted to clarify that going beyond a 10% cut would be too much. Mas said that in the meeting he had with the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, on Monday, the Prime Minister did not ask him to go beyond this 10%. Mas explained that last Monday he told Zapatero, \u201Cwith all the clarity\u201D that the Catalan Government would make \u201Ca big effort\u201D to reduce the public expenditure by 10%. Mas wanted to emphasise that never before in 30 years had a budget decrease happened. The Catalan President wanted also to stress that this decrease was already a \u201Cbig sacrifice\u201D for the Government. Then he added: \u201Cthe [Spanish] State also had to guarantee us a concrete level of revenues, because cutting by 10% will already be very hard\u201D. He insisted that \u201Cif this level of revenues from the [Spanish] State is not guaranteed, we cannot go beyond the 10%\u201D. He concluded: \u201CTo reach the deficit objective, [set at 1.3% for 2011] the Catalan Government must reduce its expenditure but also from the Spanish Government, which should give us, in a way or another, the revenues to which we are entitled\u201D.
Artur Mas stressed that the main objective is not cutting the public expenditure to have austerity policies; Mas stressed that the priority is to boost the economic recovery, \u201Chow we can help to the country\u2019s economic reactivation, which is the only thing that will make us quit the pit we are now into\u201D and create employment. Mas explained that his \u201Crecipe\u201D is not raising taxes to do that, on the contrary.
\u201CI respond to Salgado - we will not raise taxes\u201D
In this line, the Catalan President was surprised by the words from the Spanish Economic Vice President. Mas said that \u201Cshe knows that in Catalonia, last year, taxes were raised with the last Catalan Government\u201D. He also emphasised that in Catalonia there is already now the highest revenue tax in Spain. He said, \u201Ctaxes were raised to buy second hand flats, to enlarge capital, to constitute new companies, and there is a tax on fuel and a succession tax that are higher than in other parts of Spain\u201D. He concluded that \u201Cthe recipe is not raising taxes\u201D as Catalonia has been placed by the Spanish Government and the previous Catalan Government \u201Con top of the taxation levels\u201D in Spain. Today, the Spanish First Vice President, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, clarified that Salgado\u2019s words were not an imposition but \u201Ca mere thought\u201D on ways to balance a budget. He added that Salgado\u2019s words \u201Cwere a tutorial answer\u201D saying that either expenditure is cut, either revenues are increased and to do this, raising taxes is one of the options.
The first meeting of the new Advisory Council for the Economic Reactivation and Growth (CAREC)
Today Mas chaired the first meeting of the recently created Advisory Council for the Economic Reactivation and Growth (CAREC). This council has members from the economic, professional and university world. It was created in December by the new Catalan Government and it has the mission to make studies and give advice on economic policies. The council has no cost as members attend for free. It is chaired by Abertis\u2019 President, Salvador Alemany, and it has notorious members such as professors Jordi Galí, Xavier Vives and Germà Bel, and professionals from business such as Heribert Padrol (Gómez-Acebo & Pombo), Eugènia Bieto (ESADE), and Jordi Gual (La Caixa), among many other prestigious professionals and professors. The Catalan Minister for Economy, professor Andreu Mas-Colell was also present at the meeting.
25th of March: the Catalan Summit on Economy
Finally, the Catalan president also announced the date that the Catalan Summit on Economy will take place: the 25th of March. Mas promised a summit with all the main stakeholders on economy to create consensus on the main policies, reforms and strategies to foster the economic recovery. The summit will be attended by the entire Catalan Government, all the Catalan Parliament political groups, the Advisory Council (CAREC), trade unions, and business associations.