The investment then has to be executed
BarcelonaThe Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, has revealed the magic figure that every year accompanies the draft general state budget: the investment that will be allocated to Catalonia. By 2021 this investment will represent 17.2% of the Spanish total, which means an increase over the previous year, when this figure was 16.5%. In absolute numbers this is a record investment of €2.23bn. However, 17.2% is above what would correspond to its population (15%) but below the weight of its GDP (19%).
We recall that an investment equivalent to the weight of the Catalan GDP in the whole of Spain is a historical demand of Catalan parties and economic agents, and that as such it was included in the 2006 Statute of Autonomy in an additional provision, the third, which later the Constitutional Court overturned because it considered that a regional regulation could not condition the preparation of the State budget. Other regions also incorporated similar clauses in their Statutes.
In reality, this additional provision was short-lived, because with the arrival of the PP to government in 2011, investment in Catalonia fell to its usual levels, that is, between 10% and 12% of the total. From this point of view, the effort of the Spanish government to bring the figure closer to the weight of GDP cannot be ignored, especially because if the percentage is increased in Catalonia it is because it fell in other places, in this case Madrid, where it falls 1.4 points.
Even so, experience shows that it is not enough to announce a certain percentage of investment if it is not executed. The budget execution data have historically placed Catalonia at the bottom (in the first half of 2021 it had only received 11% of the total), while in other places like Madrid the commitments were fulfilled. For this reason, a certain scepticism about Montero's accounts is justified. This Thursday the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez, will offer more details on these investments. It is to be expected that, being as a Catalan Socialist from an area traditionally mistreated in terms of infrastructure as the Baix Llobregat is, she will be more sensitive to the Catalan demands.
In any case, it will also be the responsibility of the negotiators, especially ERC, to obtain guarantees that these investments will be fulfilled. Barcelona and its metropolitan area need to make a leap forward in terms of sustainable mobility, and this involves reinforcing the commuter train network, which is completely saturated. It will also be necessary to take advantage of the leverage of the budget to ensure optimum protection for the Catalan language in the audiovisual law, to protect the Catalan housing law as much as possible and, above all, to obtain the management of the Next Generation funds. Finally, it would be a pity if the Catalan Minister of Economy's party were not part of the negotiation in Madrid. Because the more groups that put pressure on the Socialists, the more possibilities there will be of obtaining concrete gains for Catalonia.