Negotiations between the Catalan government and the PSC over the Catalan budget are tense after a public call for Catalan president Pere Aragonès to hurry was made by PSC's leader Salvador Illa. Faced with the proposal made public by the socialists last week, which they reiterated again this Monday morning, the Catalan government made known through a note that there is already an agreement with the socialists, amounting to 5,386 million, and that the additional proposals which the PSC has "now" incorporated represent 5,000 million, which would force to artificially inflate the income forecast or move the spending commitment to future years. "This is budgetary engineering and would not be responsible" stated the Catalan ministry of Economy in a memo.
The Catalan government recalls that the PSC does not want to raise taxes and that, therefore, revenues cannot grow to cover the increase in spending it is asking for. "It is true that revenue has grown more than expected this year, but with a sharp slowdown in the economy as is expected for 2023 it is very imprudent to expect this increase to be repeated," said the Catalan ministry of Economy.
87% agreed upon
Last Thursday, the PSC presented a document with its demands to the Catalan government to support next year's budget. The socialists assure they are the result of the meetings maintained, including the ones with the Catalan government's negotiators. Among other proposals are projects such as the Hard Rock leisure project in the Tarragona region, the expansion of the airport or the Ronda Nord beltway, as well as much more specific issues such as stopping the opening of new delegations abroad, that the subsidies that the Catalan government grants to private media obtain the endorsement of the Catalan Chamber or that the Centre of Opinion Studies depends on the Catalan Parliament.
The Catalan government responded with a memo in which it assures that there is already an agreement with the PSC, that 87% of the points that it claims are already agreed, which are 147 proposals in the field of health, energy, social rights, industry, education, water management or mobility.
"Now, however, the PSC is asking for additional proposals valued at 5,000 million euros, of which 3,000 million would be for 2023", it adds. According to the Catalan government's memo, there are only two ways to adapt these requests, either to artificially inflate the revenue forecast, taking into account that the economy is slowing down and that next year the GDP will grow by less than half, or shift the spending commitment to future years, and considers that this would not be responsible.
In spite of the Catalan government's memo on the agreement in 87% of the points with the PSC, this morning, Catalan minister of the presidency Laura Vilagrà assured that matters considered key for the socialists, such as the Hard Rock leisure project or the extension of the airport and the Ronda Nord beltway, are "extra-budgetary" and therefore must be part of a parallel negotiation, apart from the budgets.
At the moment, Pere Aragonès only counts on his 33 deputies and the 8 deputies of the comuns to move forward with the budget, far from the Catalan Chamber majority of 135 deputies. In fact, the PSC, which, like ERC, has 33 seats and demands a negotiation on equal footing, did not hide its discomfort at the fact that the Catalan government previously closed an agreement with Jéssica Albiach's Comuns, with issues that contradict its demands.
For its part, Junts, which also negotiates the project with the Catalan government, insists they are still waiting for a response to the information they demanded about the budget. However, the Catalan government has assured for weeks that all the information they have been asked for has already been provided.