The Parliament approves the 2012 Spanish Government Budget without increasing investment in Catalonia

Using its absolute majority, the People’s Party (PP) has approved the Spanish Government’s budget for the current year refusing 3,100 amendments from the opposition. Only 3 minor amendments from the opposition parties have been accepted. The budget does not respect the current legislation, which obliges to guarantee a minimum investment percentage to be made in Catalonia in order to compensate for an historical lack of money being put into the Autonomous Community. According to Catalan law, approved by the Spanish Parliament, Catalonia should receive at least 18.66% of all the territorial investment made throughout Spain; however it only receives 11.04%.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

May 24, 2012 01:13 AM

Madrid (ACN).- As expected, the People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, has used its absolute majority in the Parliament and approved the Spanish Budget for 2012 without any modification from the opposition. Now the text has been sent to the Senate, which is expected to approve the law without any significant modification. In case the text is modified, it will be returned to the Parliament for its definitive approval. In the lower chamber, the PP has rejected all the 3,100 amendments presented by the opposition, except small changes. The Spanish Minister for Finance, Cristóbal Montoro, has justified the decision as “it was important” to maintain the spending levels by “not including modifications”. Over the past three days, the Spanish Parliament has debated the budget for 2012, but the Government has been inflexible and has not allowed any margin to incorporate variations, neither in spending nor in revenue. That was Montoro's strategy. However, the budget ignores the current legislation regarding Catalonia’s funding scheme, which is ruled by Spanish Level laws and Catalonia’s main law, approved by the Spanish Parliament and by a referendum of the Catalan people. The current legislation recognises that the Spanish Government must guarantee Catalonia a minimum investment percentage in order to compensate for an historical lack of investment carried out for decades. The Catalan parties have presented amendments to modify this aspect, which was not increasing the global spending but shifting priorities. It has been unsuccessful, and the People’s Party has simply decided to ignore the current legislation.

Josep Sanchez Llibre, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), was disappointed with Montoro and the Spanish Government’s “superb and arrogant attitude” by neglecting Catalonia’s funding scheme and legitimate claims. Sánchez-Llibre said that sooner or later, the PP will come back to knock on CiU’s door.

The Spokesperson of the Catalan Green Socialists (ICV), Joan Coscubiela, criticised the People’s party refusal to all the amendments presented by the other groups. He wondered, “do they really believe that not a single amendment from the opposition disserves to be taken into account?” “If this is the idea of dialogue and democracy they have, then it’s clearly improvable”, he stated.

The Spanish Budget for 2012 does not respect the current legislation

However, what has caused Catalan MPs the greatest disturbance was witnessing how the People’s Party decided to ignore the current legislation regarding Catalonia’s funding scheme. The budget ignores the compensation legally established for an historical lack of investment made in Catalonia by the Spanish Government, which was officially recognised by the Spanish Parliament. The compensation was clearly established in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, which is Catalonia’s main law, and it was approved by a two third majority at the Spanish Parliament and by a binding referendum in Catalonia.

Compensation for an historical lack of investment

For a period of seven years after the approval of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy, the Spanish Government has to invest in the Catalan territory the equivalent percentage of Catalonia’s weight within Spain’s GDP. The law was approved in 2006, which means that from 2007 to 2013, the Spanish Government is to invest, at least, Catalonia’s percentage within the Spanish GDP from all its territorial investment made throughout Spain. If it does not invest the minimum required, it has to pay money back to the Catalan Government. This was the case for 2007, 2008 and 2009 (the money for 2010 and 2011 has not been counted yet). However, the Spanish Government is delaying the payments.

Arrear payments, once again ignored

In the 2012 Budget, the Spanish Government refuses to pay the money it owed the Catalan Government corresponding to 2008 and 2009. The payment of 2008 was included in last year’s budget, but the agreement was never honoured by the previous Spanish Cabinet. The 2008 quantity corresponds to €759 million and the other to €211 million; combined they represent almost €1 billion.

Instead of investing 18.66%, the Spanish Government invests 11.04%

In addition, in order to not have to pay in the future for 2012, the Spanish Government should invest in Catalonia 18.66% of the total territorial investment made throughout Spain (the equivalent of Catalonia’s GDP). However, it will only invest 11.04% in Catalonia, while for instance it is allocating billion euro investments  in Galicia and Extremadura building High-Speed trains in places with non-existent demand.

Francesc Vallès, from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), complained. “Not honouring the current legislation must have consequences”. “It cannot be as if nothing happened, when [the Spanish Government] only invests 11.04% in Catalonia, when by law it must be 18.66%”, he stressed. “This budget undermines and ignores Catalonia”, he concluded. “We already warned that the budget was illegal”, he reminded.