andreu mas-colell

Catalonia will not tolerate the elimination of the Autonomous Communities' taxation powers

March 13, 2014 09:47 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government announced that, if the Spanish Executive finally decides to recentralise Catalonia's own taxes, they will take the issue to the Constitutional Court. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, stated that, if confirmed, "it would be a very provocative proposal" and "would make totally transparent, if it is not already transparent by now, the recentralising assault and the policy to dismantle the [current] Autonomous Community model". On Thursday an expert committee handed a report to the Spanish Government suggesting 270 measures to completely reform Spain's taxation system. The text states that the Spanish Government will "order" all the taxes, including those of the Autonomous Communities. Regional governments might continue having their own taxes but market unity will be a higher priority and taxes will always be "coordinated" by the Spanish Finance Ministry.

Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry report: independent Catalonia’s GDP would drop by 20%

March 13, 2014 09:06 PM | ACN

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry has drafted a new report on the consequences of an independent Catalonia, which predicts a 20% drop of the Catalan GDP. According to ‘El Periódico’ newspaper, the document - which will be sent to embassies throughout the world - foresees a fall in exports towards Europe and Spain, a decrease in foreign investments, a flight of talent, less tourism revenues because of the “lack of a common currency”, and a soar in Catalan debt which would reach 78.4% of the Catalan GDP since it would have to assume 18.9% of the Spanish Government's debt. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Government Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, said the report was merely “speculative”, adding that the Spanish Ministry was actually “campaigning” against self-determination. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs has asked Catalan authorities to back such claims with “empirical evidence”.

Regional Government of Extremadura denies Catalonia’s fiscal contribution to the rest of Spain

March 6, 2014 05:46 PM | ACN

The Government of Extremadura, a region bordering Portugal, presented a study comparing its contributions to the rest of Spain with those of the other Autonomous Communities, particularly focusing on Catalonia. The main thrust of the report was that Catalonia receives the highest amount of money from the Spanish Government, which goes against absolutely all the previous studies that have established that Catalan taxes fund services, investments and infrastructure in the rest of Spain. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, characterised “the political document” presented by Extremadura’s Government as a “complete nonsense”. Mas-Colell, who was Professor of Economics at Berkley and Harvard from 1972 to 1995, said that the report lacked rigour and was not a technical work. The next day Extremadura’s President, José Antonio Monago, stated that Catalonia is “a privileged territory” and questioned whether it could repay its debt.

“We won’t do anything that may leave us out of Europe”, stated Catalan Finance Minister

February 19, 2014 08:03 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for the Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell, emphatically stated that if it is “neat, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain will not affect the economy” nor business activity. In front of about 250 employers who were invited at a luncheon organised by Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, Mas-Colell explained that “Catalonia had emerged stronger” from the economic crisis. The former Economics Professor in Harvard and Berkley also emphasised that the Catalan Government “will not do anything that may leave [Catalans] out of Europe”, thereby sending “reassuring” messages to business-owners. In his speech, the Finance Minister also defended the ongoing self-determination process, describing it as an attempt to respond to the Spanish Government’s centralist policy which is looking to “laminate” Catalonia’s Autonomy “using the crisis as an excuse”.

Catalan businesspeople annoyed with Spanish Government for not issuing fiscal balances

January 28, 2014 01:43 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The Catalan business community is deeply annoyed with the Spanish Government for not publishing transparent data on Catalonia’s fiscal contribution to the rest of Spain and therefore not recognising the fiscal deficit. The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, was supposed to issue the so-called fiscal balances last December but their publication was inexplicably delayed. Last Friday, in late January, Montoro announced the fiscal balances would no longer be calculated and published in the present form; instead, he would publish in March the “regionalised public figures” stating the costs of public services per citizen because the fiscal balances were “incomplete and incoherent”. However, on Tuesday, the Minister recognised that they were “correct” but “wrongly used” to support Catalan independence claims.

Catalan Finance Minister accuses Rajoy of sidelining and homogenising the Autonomous Communities

January 24, 2014 02:57 PM | ACN

Andreu Mas-Colell, Catalan Finance Minister, accused the Spanish Government of aiming “to undo” the system of Autonomous Communities. He also expressed his fear that the so-called ‘coffee for all’ system [the generalised devolution of the early 1980s that shaped the 17 Autonomous Communities] will become a ‘decaffeinated coffee’ system, implemented ‘in depth’. With this play on words, Mas-Colell was referring to a deep recentralisation and homogenisation process. Furthermore, the former professor of Economics at Harvard and Berkley, denounced “the budget treatment” that the Spanish Government gives to Catalonia as “totally unfair”. In this vein, he proposed that an international and independent body should calculate the fiscal balances between Catalonia and the Spanish State.

The Catalan Government’s budget for 2014 is finally approved

January 22, 2014 09:36 PM | ACN

All the opposition parties except the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), which shares a parliamentary stability agreement with the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), have criticised the Catalan Government’s budget for 2014 – which amounts to €29.31 billion – for being “anti-social”. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government, the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA), the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) and the radical left-wing and independence party CUP all opposed the budget proposal. The CiU and ERC defended the bill and have accused the other parties of “not presenting real alternatives”. The budget’s approval was delayed by a month after the PP appealed against the bill because it includes €5 million for a consultation vote.

Catalonia’s independence would have “a major adverse impact on Spain’s economy” warns Moody’s

January 16, 2014 07:47 PM | ACN

Rating agency Moody’s warns that Catalan independence from Spain might have “a major adverse impact on Spain’s economy” but also that “Catalonia itself could also suffer” if the break–up is not friendly. In a forecast about the Spanish economy published this week, the New York-based company analyses potential risks that might damage the expected economic recovery. Moody’s praise the high level of exports, based on a higher competitiveness reached by lowering salaries. However, the report, signed by Zach Witton, highlights that “debt reduction by households and businesses, elevated unemployment, the housing market correction, and tight credit will drag on growth”.

Catalan Government stops cutting off energy supplies to families in need

December 23, 2013 08:16 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government has finally approved a decree protecting families in need from having their household electricity and gas cut off by energy supply companies during the winter months. The measure aims to fight the so-called ‘energy povert’: people who cannot afford to pay for their energy bills because they do not get minimum income. This way, the Catalan Government ensures they can continue having heating and using their cooking devices during the coldest period of the year. Energy companies will not be able to cut off supplies to these families between November and March. Besides, the Catalan Government has also approved a temporary budget extension for the coming weeks, since the People’s  Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Executive – has blocked the approval of the 2014 budget.

Italian and German investment funds buy two Catalan Government buildings

December 20, 2013 08:42 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government put 4 buildings up for auction this Friday, following a plan to rationalise the spaces it uses, reduce spending and increase revenue in order to reduce public deficit. The headquarters of the Catalan Finance Ministry, located in a 8,000 square metre Art-Nouveau building in Barcelona’s Rambla Catalunya, has been bought by an Italian pharmaceutical company through FINAF 92 for €23.2 million. The other building, with a surface of 7,200 square metres, was used by the Catalan Police and is located in front of Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park. It has been bought by the German hotel company MO Düsseldorf Immermannstrasse GmbH & CO. KG for €14.1 million. On Thursday, the Catalan Government announced a plan to reduce its office space by 45% in the coming year by concentrating services. The plan includes selling the most attractive buildings.

Catalan Government plans to reduce its office space by 45%

December 19, 2013 08:22 PM | ACN

The Catalan Finance Minister presented on Thursday a ‘Space Rationalisation and Optimisation Plan’ that foresees to partially leave Barcelona’s city centre and set up offices in cheaper areas. Nonetheless, the measure does not include citizen information and care centres such as schools and community health centres. Furthermore, the initiative also plans to reduce the global office space by using previously-empty floors and concentrating services without laying off staff. The objective is to pass from holding 377,000 square metres to fully occupying 207,000 square metres, a 45% reduction. By doing so, the Catalan Government expects to reduce rents by a 20% average, to cut off indirect costs by 50% and to decrease energy spending by 30%. Furthermore, it will sell the most appealing buildings.

Spanish Government will not compensate Catalonia for cancelling its tax on bank deposits

December 19, 2013 03:45 PM | ACN

The Catalan Executive considers the Spanish Government’s decision not to pay them the money corresponding to the revenue from the tax on bank deposits in 2013 “very bad news”. On the 18th December 2012, the Catalan Executive approved a tax on banks’ global deposits (not on personal deposits) with a general rate of 0.5% but with many reductions. Such a tax already existed in Andalusia, Extremadura and the Canaries. Nine days later, the Spanish Government approved its own tax, but at a 0% rate, therefore not collecting any money but cancelling de facto the Autonomous Communities’ tax. When this happens, the Spanish Executive is legally obliged to compensate the regional government, transferring the equivalent money. Madrid did so with the others, but not with Catalonia. Such a tax would have generated €800 million in revenue in 2013.

Catalan Finance Minister calls the PP “obstructionist” for blocking next year’s budget

December 18, 2013 02:41 PM | ACN

Andreu Mas-Colell, Catalan Finance Minister, considered the People’s Party (PP) to be “obstructionist” for blocking the approval of the Catalan Government’s budget for 2014, which was initially scheduled for this week. On Tuesday evening the PP – which runs the Spanish Government – confirmed it was freezing the implementation of the €29.31 billion budget because it included €5 million (0.0176% of the total spending) to fund “electoral processes and citizen consultations”. Mas-Colell warned that by delaying the budget’s implementation, the Catalan Government will lose revenue coming from new taxes and therefore it will have more difficulties meeting the deficit targets for 2014. All the parties in the Catalan Parliament criticised the PP’s initiative except the anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans (C’s), which backed the action.

PP is considering blocking Catalan Government’s budget for 2014

December 16, 2013 08:09 PM | ACN

The People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – has announced it is looking at the possibility of freezing the approval of the Catalan Executive’s own budget. They are considering blocking the €29.31 billion budget because it will allocate €5 million (0.017% of the total spending) to a “citizen consultation”. The approval of such a budget is essential to meet the 1% deficit target for 2014. However, the PP fears this money could be used to organise the self-determination vote in 2014. The PP’s leader in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, has announced she was talking with the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, on blocking the budget’s approval. The CiU, running the Catalan Government, has stated it is “a mistake”.

The Spanish Government to transfer to Catalonia the €1.7 billion cancelled in October

November 14, 2013 09:45 PM | ACN

The Catalan Executive says it has the Spanish Government’s commitment to send the €1.76 billion that the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, announced in late October would not be transferred. This money corresponds to the loan to fund the Catalan Government’s deficit target increase from 0.7% to 1.58% in 2013 approved in July by the Spanish Executive. However, in late October – 10 weeks before the end of the year, Montoro said that this amount would be deducted from the fund to pay the Catalan Government’s service providers. This meant that Catalonia was missing €1.76 billion to fund public services and departments for the last part of the year. Negotiations during the last 4 weeks have modified Montoro’s October decision.