The deficit of Spain's infrastructure investment in Catalonia has long been one of the points of greatest grievance from Catalonia's government and its economic agents, to the point that redress of the spending miserliness has become an historic demand. For example, in the last two years (2019-20), this deficit in infrastructure spending has increased by 7 billion euros. This emerges from an analysis of the data on the evolution of the Spanish state's public investment in Catalonia and shows that in the last twelve years (2009-2020) a deficit of 35 billion euros in infrastructure has accumulated. This is one of the most significant conclusions in a report prepared by the Infrastructures Committee of the Catalan employers' association Foment de Treball, presented this Monday by the association's president, Josep Sánchez Llibre, its vice-president, Joaquim Llansó, and the president of the committee, Anna Cornadó. The report has updated the data studied in the period 2009-2018, and which for that 10 year period estimated a deficit of 28 billion euros.
Moreover, it points out that, in terms of budget monitoring of some of the most significant works undertaken, the budget records, year after year, that there are investments that are not executed - where, for a variety of reasons, investment is made more difficult or slow, so that the same infrastructure spending items ends up being repeated in successive budgets. Thus, it repeatedly happens that the budgeted amount is much higher than what is finally executed. This repetition of items in budgets, due to the lack of execution of projects, alters and distorts them, so that they show investment volumes that are much higher than the real figures, and makes their credibility questionable in all public administrations.
Spanish budget execution in Catalonia
In the Spanish government budget for 2022, the budgeted allocation for investments in Catalonia is 2.23 billion euros, 17.2% of the total investments that can be regionalized. This figure represents an increase of 11.6% compared to the 2021 budget and places Catalonia as the second community with the most weight in the total budgeted investments, just behind Andalusia. However, the figures are still below the economic weight of Catalonia in the GDP of the Spanish state (19%), a reference indicator that is included in the law - specifically, in the third additional provision of the 2006 Catalan Statute of Autonomy, a law approved by the Spanish parliaments - which was conceived to correct the infrastructure deficit in Catalonia. So this is the first part of the deficit which the report measures. As well, the investment finally executed is far from what was initially budgeted. From 2013 to 2020, the average execution of budget items by the state in Catalonia was 67.1%, that is, a deficit of approximately 3.07 billion euros has built up between investment budgeted and the amount of that sum that was in the end carried out.
For 2021, the state’s real investment budget for Catalonia was 2.07 billion euros, in initial obligations. With the official data from the state's general comptroller, the execution of the budget was 13.3% at the end of the first half year, a percentage that makes it impossible for the state to carry out 100% of the investment budgeted in Catalonia for 2021. Looking at another statistic, if we analyze only the investments made in Catalonia by Spain's ministries of transport, mobility and urban agenda and their affiliated entities, the 2013-2020 budget execution falls to 61.6% and regionalizable investment stands at 12.2% on average for the period.
Budget execution by the Catalan Generalitat
According to the available data, from 2013 to 2020, the budget execution by the Catalan government has been approximately 77.1%. The accumulated deficit of the government of the Generalitat between the budgeted and the executed figures is 2.28 billion euros for the period 2013-2020. Historically, the percentage of the Catalan government budget actually carried out has been 86.1%. Only three times has it reached or exceeded the figure budgeted for investment since 1982 (2008, 2009 and 2011). In this year's Catalan budget, public investment reaches the figure of 3.95 billion euros, an increase of 96.4% over the budget of 2021. Housing policies and urban actions (529 million euros), roads (265 million) and railway infrastructure (223 million) are among the items with the most investment allocated.