The next Catalan Government’s budget for 2011 will be “clearly smaller” than last year’s

The new Catalan Government announced today that the budget for 2011 (currently the 2010 has been extended) will be ready within the next 4 months and approved before the summer break. The Government’s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, said that for the first time, the budget will be “clearly smaller” than the previous year’s. In addition, the new Government asked for an external audit on the Catalan public administration’s finances.

CNA / P. Francesch / G. Pericay Coll

January 11, 2011 10:35 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The new Catalan Government took office the week after Christmas and is currently taking its first decisions: main appointments and strategic guidelines and frameworks. The main and most immediate framework is the 2011 budget, which does not exist on its own, as the 2010 was extended. The new Government will have a budget proposal within the next 3-4 months, aiming to having it approved by the Catalan Parliament before August. In a context of financial markets’ overreacting, public expenditure cutbacks and public deficit limitations, the new Catalan Government announced today that the 2011 budget will be “clearly shorter” than the previous year. That is what the Government’s Spokesperson and Secretary of the Presidency Francesc Homs said in a press conference after the Government’s weekly meeting. Since Catalonia has been getting more competences, the Catalan budget has been increasing “to a small or large extent”, Homs explained. Revenues decreased in 2010 and so must expenditure in 2011 in order to keep the deficit under control. Homs also announced that the new Government will command an external audit, not as a “revenge” towards the former Government but as a “transparency” measure.

“At the end, there will be less money to spend”, Francesc Homs clarified. The Government’s Spokesperson added that considering the current financial and economic context, “it is very likely that the total amount of the Government’s budget for 2011 will be for the first time shorter than the previous year’s budget”. He explained that the Government approved a decree setting “the implementation criteria for the Government’s budget extension, but there is still not an approved budget for 2011”. He emphasised that this decree focuses on the prudence and austerity regarding the use of public resources.

One of the extension criteria is that all the programme expenditures and activities finishing in 2010, as well as those that ended but could be extended in 2011, would be temporarily cut. Exceptions are going to be allowed, one by one, by the Catalan Ministry of Economy and Finances. This means that Andreu Mas-Colell’s department has an “effective and real” control “over an important part of the expenditure”. However, Homs clarified that this does not mean that everything finishing in 2010 is over as “there are things that cannot be cancelled”.

There will also be “expenditure limitations of between 30 and 60 percent, explained by the temporary limitation of the decree, in force until the new 2011 budget’s implementation”. In addition, staff will temporarily not be replaced as a general procedure. There will exceptions regarding health and education, or strategic sectors or jobs.

An external audit

Besides, the Catalan Government started its steps to commanding an external financial audit “without a revenge aim”. Homs foresees this audit to be ready in about 3 months, once the public offer has been published and the audit company hired. This was an electoral promise of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). The aim is “to clarify the economic situation of the Catalan Government and in particular the deficit regarding 2010”. Homs insisted that this measure is in line with a “transparency” spirit and is not “a revenge against anyone”.