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.

Chairman of Spanish Employers: Catalan business-owners are shifting towards self-determination

December 17, 2013 08:43 PM | ACN

Juan Rosell, the current Chairman of Spain’s main association of employers (CEOE), and who used to chair the main Catalan employers association, stated that Catalan businesspeople are shifting towards pro-self-determination stands. Rosell, who is openly against Catalonia’s independence, stated that “business people are not aliens” and “if society has changed its views in the last few years, so have businesspeople”. The top representative of Spanish business-owners stated that the current moment is “extremely serious”. Rosell demanded to “bridge the gap, put all the economic data on the table and analyse the pros and cons for one side and the other one” regarding Catalonia’s independence from Spain. Rosell asserted that companies have not left Catalonia due to the self-determination process.

Bank of Spain Governor: Catalonia’s independence would bring “bankruptcy”

November 26, 2013 02:52 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, replied that “nobody believes” in the “apocalyptic” message sent by the Governor of the Bank of Spain, who was appointed by the current Spanish Government in 2012. Mas asked Luís María Linde for “caution” and “to serve the whole of Spain and do not take sides”. Linde stated in Madrid that “independence is unviable”. He argued that the European Central Bank only funds Member States and thus Catalonia would be “obliged to issue its own currency” and have “its own banking supervisor”. On the same day, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, said that if Catalonia were independent it would have “to abandon the Euro” and this could even lead to putting the entire Eurozone at risk. However, in September the European Commission confirmed that an independent Catalonia could continue to use the Euro in different scenarios.

Catalan chemists have already received 74% of the pending arrears

November 21, 2013 03:07 PM | ACN

The Catalan Chemists’ Professional Association, in charge of distributing the money from partially-subsidised prescribed drugs, has already received €309 million of the €416 million arrears payments due.The Professional Association announced the “immediate distribution” of the money received. Two weeks ago, Catalan chemists went on strike for these arrears, urging the Catalan and Spanish Governments to issue the payments. In theory the Catalan Executive is in charge of paying them, but to do so it needs a previous transfer from the Spanish Government. The necessary transfers from Madrid have been arriving intermittently over the last year and on many occasions with considerable delay. For these reasons, chemists protested on the 7th November in front of the Spanish Government’s Delegation in Barcelona.

Spanish Government “regrets” the “confusion” about cancelling the €1.76 billion transfer

November 20, 2013 09:19 PM | ACN

The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, “regretted” on Tuesday evening the “confusion” about having announced in October he was cancelling a €1.76 billion transfer to the Catalan Government. Without this scheduled payment, the Catalan Executive is having serious problems to fund the 1.58% deficit approved for 2013. “These things can happen” said Montoro. In late October – 10 weeks before the end of the year – the Spanish Minister announced that the Catalan Government would not receive the €1.76 billion requested from the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomous Communities (FLA) since this money would be used by the Service Provider Fund to pay for arrear invoices. A week ago, the Catalan Government confirmed Montoro would transfer the €1.76 billion.

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.

Catalan Government’s budget for 2014 to have a 1% deficit, more social spending and further privatisations

November 5, 2013 11:40 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The Catalan Government has presented its budget proposal for 2014, which posts a 1% deficit, representing a 35.5% annual reduction and amounting to €1.98 billion, in line with the 2014 deficit targets imposed by the Spanish Government. The budget prioritises healthcare, education and social policies, which represent 71% of the total non-financial spending. Non-financial spending grows by 0.2% and reaches €20.30 billion, while the total spending amounts to €29.31 billion. The Catalan Finance Minister stressed that spending had not been reduced this year since in the last 3 years it had already dropped by 22%. Budget cuts “have reached their limit”, as otherwise “social cohesion” and “the Welfare State” would “be at risk” he said. In 2014 the Catalan Executive will spend the same per inhabitant as it was doing in 2004 taking into account inflation (€1,901).The adjustment for 2014 focuses on increasing revenue by €3.2 billion, mostly through new taxes (€910 million) and the sales of assets and privatisations (€2.32 billion). On top of this, the Catalan Government forecasts a 0.9% economic growth for 2014, leaving behind the recession of 2012 (-1.2%) and 2013 (-1.1%).

Catalonia’s GDP to grow by 0.9% in 2014 with a 23.1% unemployment rate according to Catalan Government

November 5, 2013 10:36 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government has forecasted a 0.9% economic growth for 2014 in its budget proposal for next year, leaving behind the recession of 2012 (-1.2%) and 2013 (-1.1%). The positive figures are mostly due to the strength of the export sector – which will continue to improve its results. The main factor slowing down growth will be the internal demand, which will continue to decrease although it will do so at a lower pace. In addition, the Catalan Executive believes the unemployment rate will decrease and reach 23.1% by the end of the year. It is expected 2013 will end with a 23.7% unemployment rate, higher than the 22.6% rate registered at the end of 2012.

Catalonia registered a 1.06% deficit by the end of August, in line with the 1.58% target for the entire year

October 29, 2013 09:24 PM | ACN

During the first two thirds of 2013, the Catalan Government deficit amounted to €2.05 billion, equivalent to 1.06% of Catalonia’s GDP. The figure corresponds to 67% of the 1.58% deficit target imposed by the Spanish Government to the Catalan Executive for the whole year 2013. Meanwhile, the entire Spanish public sector posted a deficit corresponding to 5.07% of Spain’s GDP in the same period, although data from municipalities is still pending to be included. The figure already represents 78% of the total 6.5% deficit target that the European Union allowed Spain for the entire year 2013.

The Institut Català de Finances (ICF) to be transformed into Catalonia’s public bank

October 23, 2013 11:23 AM | ACN

The Catalan Government approves a decree to transform the Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF) into a publicly-owned bank to support business and particularly SMEs. With this change, the Catalan Executive’saim is “to strengthen the ICF’s role as a tool to support business and the productive economy”, as the Government’s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, told the press on Tuesday. The measure is part of the Parliamentary Stability Agreement signed between the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalism Coalition (CiU).

The Spanish Government imposes an €8 billion budget adjustment on the Autonomous Communities in 2014 and 2015

October 17, 2013 09:00 PM | ACN

The Spanish Government has sent a Budget Plan to the European Commission, following the new rules giving Brussels greater control on Member State finances. The plan’s scope includes all government levels in Spain. In the plan, the Spanish Government imposes a global budget adjustment of €8 billion on the Autonomous Community governments, including Catalonia’s, to be achieved within the next two years. €2.14 billion would come from increasing revenue next year, since Madrid considers that the Autonomous Communities can still increase their own taxes, particularly those linked to the environment. €1.93 billion would come from further budget cuts. This would total €4.07 billion in 2014, which would roughly be repeated in 2015.

The Spanish Government’s disloyalty towards Catalonia cost €9.38 billion according to the Catalan Executive

October 15, 2013 10:40 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government has published a report listing all the Spanish Executive’s disloyalties towards Catalonia including not respecting legislation, devolved powers and cultural aspects. The 50-page document has a chapter quantifying the costs of such disloyalty, which totals €9.375 billion, according to the Catalan Government. €5.748 billion correspond to infrastructure which has not been built; €672 million to a reduction in institutional transfers; €1.715 billion to spending increases due to the Spanish Government’s unilateral decisions; and €1.239 to revenue reductions due to similar unilateral decisions which have never been compensated. The report does not take into account the so-called fiscal deficit – the €16.5 billion that each year Catalan tax-payers transfer to the rest of Spain. The Catalan Government emphasised that there has been “a permanent disloyal activity” since 2000.

The Spanish Government announces in October that €1.7 billion will not be transferred to the Catalan Executive this year

October 15, 2013 09:50 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government will receive €1.7 billion less from the Spanish Liquidity Fund (FLA) in 2013 than had been previously foreseen. The news was announced by the Spanish Government in mid-October, with only 10 weeks left before the end of the year. Madrid has justified the decision by linking the FLA to the plan to lend money to public bodies in order to enable them to pay suppliers. The money to pay suppliers will now be deducted from the FLA, changing the previous conditions. As a consequence, the Catalan Government will not be able to fund the 1.58% deficit it had allowed, since the FLA is its only access to liquidity. Now, Catalonia will only have money for the previously-foreseen 0.7% deficit. The Catalan Executive feels “tricked” as “it is not understandable that the Spanish Government agrees to a greater deficit and later cannot fund this deficit”.

Catalunya Banc and unions reach a pre-agreement to reduce the mass lay-off from 2,450 to 2,153 workers

October 9, 2013 09:57 PM | ACN

The Barcelona-based nationalised Catalunya Banc has reached a first deal with unions on the announced mass lay-off. The deal includes voluntary redundancies instead of early retirements, and the possibility for 401 workers over 50 years old to leave the company. The agreement was reached in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after a long day of talks on Tuesday. Catalunya Banc runs the banking business of the nationalised savings bank CatalunyaCaixa, which will be sold in the coming months after a comprehensive restructuring process. Talks are still ongoing in order to close a definitive deal and the definitive agreement has now to be ratified by the bank’s Board.