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A storm of criticism has rained down on the Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, in Parliament as she appeared to give an explanation over last Saturday's chaotic process of oposicions - civil service entry exams - held to turn current temporary Catalan government workers into stably-employed civil servants. On the eve of her appearance, the minister had already announced that all of the exams would have to be repeated, in addition to holding the company to whom the process was outsourced, Cegos, responsible. The company's response was to make public the contract it signed with the government and denounce the delays and misinformation from the ministry that led to the chaos. "At the moment we are not asking her to resign, but really, she deserves it", the PSC warned, while Junts also implied that the minister's head should roll and the CUP and Vox asked outright for her resignation. Only Vilagrà's own party, the governing ERC defended her continuity in response to the chaos, while Joan Carles Gallego of the Comuns asserted that it was not the moment to talk about resignations.

The minister began her explanation with words of apology to the 13,534 people who took part in the exam process. "We deeply regret the inadmissible incidents of last Saturday. Entry exams are sacred," she said. Immediately, however, she made it clear that she had no intention of resigning, assuring that she is not "one of those who walks away when there are problems", that this is not the first time she has encountered a crisis of these dimensions, that she has had to cope as mayor, and that solutions will be found. "The first person angry about this situation is myself and my team," she said.

After reviewing the 3,847 complaints received on the website activated by the Generalitat, the minister concluded that the exams are fully affected by the problems that occurred, which destroyed the necessary confidence in the process and forced the annulment of the test results. "It's a difficult decision to make, but we had to make it," she said. From there, she focused her criticism on the company, Cegos, which she said had done previous work for the Catalan government and which she accused of flagrant non-compliance. Vilagrà demanded that the company accept its responsibility, just as the executive has done, having this week sacked the director general of the Civil Service administration.

Compensation of at least €1 million 

The minister denounced that "the company has seriously breached its contract", that after analyzing the contractual documents it was decided to terminate the contract with Cegos, and that a study is being made of all the damage suffered by the exam candidates and the administration, for which a sum of least one million euros in compensation will be demanded. "I understand that the company is concerned and is trying to defend itself, but it is unjustified", she responded, arguing that Cegos "has everything in play because depending on how it acts, it may never be able to work with the Catalan administration again" and "for that reason it is defending itself tooth and nail."

Vilagrà asserted that a patrimonial responsibility office has been set up to compensate the possible damage suffered by applicants, and guaranteed that the government's objective is to "repair the situation" created despite being aware that "all the damage done cannot be redressed." "We know that they have suffered intolerable grievances, but in less than a week we have dealt with the situation, we have taken measures", she argued.

PSC: "Incompetent"

From the PSC, Marta Moreta railed against the minister and against her public statement yesterday holding the company responsible. "We are indignant, angry, disappointed by her attitude and arrogance. What a lack of respect. This is truly shameful. You are disgraceful, minister," she denounced, although concluding: "For now we're not asking her to resign, but really, she deserves it."  

Moreta raised questions about the privatization in this exam process. "It is the first time in history that outsourcing on this scale has been done. It is important to be clear about who made that decision," she stated. The deputy recalled that the outsourcing of the process was decided seven months before the appointment of the general director who resigned, asserting that her sacking is "an aesthetic operation that convinces no-one and is completely insufficient". 

Junts demands consequences

The Junts deputy, Glòria Freixa, did not openly ask for the minister's resignation either, but did call for "internal reflections on what is to be done in this case" and recalled that when there are problems with suburban trains, ERC does not ask for the resignation of the head of the Renfe operator but of the person with political responsibility. "The company has shown its face, it has published the contract. We have two pieces of information, the one you give us and the one from the company, which states that there was a lack of space, that there were e-mails warning about this, that did not receive a reply; that the exam questions arrived late, some the day before, when they should have arrived a week in advance," said the Junts deputy before asking: "What consequences will the repetition of this exam have?"

"Correct your fault or resign"

Vox was the first party to openly call for the minister's resignation. The same demand was made by Basha Changue of the CUP, who stated that the situation last weekend was the "tip of the iceberg of a disastrous civil service stabilization process", denouncing that many workers 'have been excluded from. "Corrent your fault or resign, minister", she warned, noting that the IAC-CATAC union has asked for her resignation. Joan Carles Gallego, from the Comuns, regretted that the minister had gone public over the repetition of the exams before her appearance in Parliament but put the situation in the context of efforts to discredit the government, and administrative and labour problems. Gallego was outraged by what had happened, but he appreciated that "action was taken quickly".  From Ciudadanos, Nacho Martín Blanco warned that the Cegos company was presented as a "scapegoat", and he warned about the responsibilities of the Catalan executive. Only ERC deputy Jordi Albert openly defended the minister. Albert attributed the dismissal of the Civil Service director general to an action of self-criticism by the government, and attributed the criticisms made by Cegos against the government to its need to defend itself in a legal process.