public deficit

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.

The PP to finally block the Catalan Government’s budget

December 17, 2013 08:27 PM | ACN

On Monday the People’s Party (PP) announced they were considering freezing the 2014 Catalan Government’s budget of €29.31 billion. The reason is that they include €5 million (0.017% of the total spending) to fund “electoral processes and citizen consultations”, which they fear could fund a self-determination vote. The Catalan Government has the power to organise a consultation process, as well as to modify small items once the budget is approved. The PP was waiting for the Spanish Finance Minister’s green light, since blocking the budget’s approval could have consequences on the objective to reduce public deficit and on meeting the targets imposed by the EU. Cristóbal Montoro argued that, since the blocking would “only last some 30 days”, there is no such danger.

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”.

Unions and municipalities criticise the Spanish Government for not reducing its structure

December 10, 2013 09:28 PM | ACN

Trade unions and the two associations of municipalities in Catalonia have issued a joint manifesto to protest against the Spanish Government’s Local Administration Reform. This reform recentralises powers and services, reducing the municipalities’ capacities and transferring resources to the Provincial Councils, political bodies associated to Spanish centralism and whose members are not directly-elected. The manifesto criticises the Spanish Government “for not having faced any significant reform of its heavy structure”, despite managing 53% of Spain’s public expenditure. The Spanish Government is also forcing the Autonomous Communities to reduce their services and structures.

Demonstration in Barcelona against austerity and “antisocial” policies

November 25, 2013 05:37 PM | ACN

Thousands of people – 12,000 according to Barcelona’s local police and 200,000 according to the organisers – demonstrated on Sunday in the streets of Barcelona to protest against the Spanish and Catalan Governments’ austerity measures and “antisocial” budgets. Led by the platform ‘Prou Retallades’ (“Stop Budget Cuts”) , the UGT and CCOO trade-unions, as well as political parties and associations, citizens voiced their disapproval of the new pension reform, working fragility and the latest austerity measures. They also specifically protested against the Catalan and Spanish Governments’ budgets for 2014, which they consider “antisocial”. The demonstration organisers criticised the “blind obedience” of the Catalan and Spanish Executives to the European Commission and the Troika.

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.

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”.

The Catalan President asks for a broad agreement to define the legal framework for a self-determination vote in 2014

September 25, 2013 10:47 PM | ACN

On the occasion of the Catalan Parliament’s main annual debate, called the Debate on General Policy, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, asked the political parties to work on a broad “triple agreement” on the exact date, question and legal framework for holding a self-determination vote. Furthermore, Mas stated that he wanted this agreement to be reached before the end of the year, in order to have the road paved for holding the vote in 2014. However, he did not say whether the question will be exclusively about Catalonia’s independence from Spain or whether a third way will also be included as an option. Besides, Mas re-affirmed his will to negotiate with the Spanish Government on the legal formula for organising a referendum. However, he also stressed that if Madrid completely rejects talks on holding a self-determination vote, there is nothing to negotiate on.

1,060 companies moved from Catalonia to Madrid for tax reasons since 2010, according to Madrid’s Government

August 19, 2013 10:13 PM | ACN

In the last three years, 1,060 companies have moved their headquarters from Catalonia to the region of Madrid, according to a report published by Madrid’s regional Government. The report states that most of them took the decision because of the lower taxes that exist in Spain’s capital, compared to other areas such as Catalonia. Since 2010, 5,000 companies based in the rest of Spain decided to move to Madrid; 21.4% of them were from Catalonia. Paradoxically, 43 cents out of every euro paid in taxes in Catalonia is to pay for investments and services made in other parts of Spain, which turns into an annual fiscal deficit of 8.5% of Catalonia’s GDP, meaning that Catalans are obliged by the Spanish Government to give away €16.5 billion. Meanwhile, the Catalan Government is under-budgeted and obliged to implement severe budget cuts and raise taxes to balance the budget.

Catalonia has 41 civil servants per 1,000 inhabitants while the Spanish average is 57

August 13, 2013 09:19 PM | ACN

The number of public employees in Catalonia has been reduced by 4.76% over the last year, while in the whole of Spain the reduction was of 3.97%, due to the budget cuts in the public sector. However, the number of civil servants in Catalonia was already significantly lower than the Spanish average, according to a study issued by the SME association PIMEC. In January 2013, there were 40.7 civil servants for every 1,000 inhabitants in Catalonia, while the Spanish average was 57.4 and it reached 79.6 in the Autonomous Community of Extremadura. In fact, 26.7% of the Extremadura’s workforce is employed in the public sector, while the percentage drops to 11.1% in Catalonia. PIMEC stated in its report that, if Catalonia had the same proportion of public employees as the Spanish average, its unemployment rate would drop from 24.5% to 20.5%, with 150,000 fewer jobseekers.

The Catalan Government to launch a Christmas lottery to increase public revenue

August 8, 2013 09:28 PM | ACN

Since 1986, the Catalan Government has its own lottery system, which brought a profit of €40 million last year. The Catalan lottery administration dedicates 60% of the revenue to prizes and the remaining 40% to finance public policies. In total, there are six lottery games, including scratch cards and lotto draws, but there are no specific draws for special days, as exists in the Spanish Government’s Christmas Lottery. After a proposal from representatives of shopkeepers’ associations, the Catalan Executive decided to launch a similar Christmas draw, with tickets worth 5 euros. 80% of the revenue will go towards prizes and 20% will finance children’s assistance programmes. €15 million will be put on sale. The opposition has been surprised by the initiative and stated they were hoping it was not the only measure to increase revenue.

The Catalan Government extends the 2012 budget for the whole of 2013 due to the low deficit target

August 6, 2013 09:27 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, officially announced on Tuesday that last year’s budget will be extended for the whole of 2013, since the 1.58% deficit target imposed by the Spanish Executive is too low and arrives too late. However, he explained that the budget extension guidelines will meet the 1.58% deficit target, because otherwise they would not have the money to pay for the additional spending. Furthermore, Mas announced they will take the “unfair and illegal split” of the deficit targets among the different government levels to court, since they consider the Spanish Government has not done it “in a proportional way”, since it keeps most of the deficit allowed for Spain’s total public sector for itself. Some opposition parties have strongly criticised the Catalan Government for extending the budget.