Giró demands Catalan management of European funds after creation of a secretariat for this purpose
"The fiscal deficit is €2,200 per Catalan. Who is not being supportive is not Catalonia", says the Catalan Minister
BarcelonaThe Minister of Economy of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Jaume Giró, has called for "co-governance" and "co-management" of the European Union's NextGen funds that the State will receive. "Catalonia has done its homework with regard to the European Funds", he said, which is why he has called for support from employers and unions to prevent the Government from being "a simple administrator" of the funds and, to this end, he announced the creation of a "secretariat for economic affairs and European funds".
"The Government has collaborated with the productive fabric to bring forward over 1,000 projects, of which 27 have been identified as strategic", said the head of the finances of the Generalitat. "These projects could be financed tomorrow if we had the ability to decide on the funds", he added, so we must "get to work" once Brussels has given the green light to the Spanish government. "From the Government of the Generalitat, we are ready to manage these funds", he said.
Attack on the State for the fiscal and investment deficit
Giró recalled in a meeting of the Cercle d'Economia that Catalonia's fiscal deficit in 2016 was €2,200 per citizen. "If we add the social emergency to the investment deficit and the fiscal deficit, we could say that the ones not showing solidarity are not precisely Catalonia," he said. "Let's remember that in Catalonia there are 42,000 households with an income of €7,670 per year," he said.
Giró added that State investment in Catalonia last year was €957m, or €125 per inhabitant, when other communities have received more than €300 per capita. "Imagine what Catalonia would be like with a Mediterranean corridor at full capacity or a commuter train service like citizens deserve", he said.
Faced with this situation, Giró has appealed to the need for Catalonia to achieve independence: "Perhaps it is completely unnecessary to say so, I am one of the many who think that the best way to be economically efficient is for Catalonia to become, democratically, a new state of the European Union", he said.
The Minister recalled that, in the most intense years of the Catalan independence bid, "a mantra was installed that said that these mobilisations and the way of governing the country were having a direct impact on the strength of our economy". "Companies flight was presented, if you remember, as a spontaneous and uncontainable hemorrhage, which had to leave our country practically in a coma", he added, because of an escape of resources that were leaving "towards Madrid". According to Giró, the data disprove this "mantra", since the period between 2014 and 2019 were "vibrant" years for the Catalan economy.
"In post-truth times, often reality goes one way and the narrative goes the other", he has assured, when he explained that Catalonia grew by 2.8% per year on average, one point more than the European average, in addition to increasing exports to 25% of the Spanish total.
The Catalan government has ruled out presenting a new budget for 2021, after approving the 2020 budget late, and has preferred to focus on a budget for next year. "The most efficient thing from a budgetary point of view is to start working now on the 2022 budgets to achieve maximum consensus", with the aim of getting them through parliament "as soon as possible", Giró explained.
Defence of the "repressed"
Before an audience mostly hostile to independence, Giró recalled "citizens repressed and persecuted because of the Catalan indepedence bid, starting with President Carles Puigdemont", of whom he said he suffers "a very hard exile too often silenced". In addition, he also mentioned the "rest of the exiled Ministers or political prisoners", among which he highlighted two of his predecessors at the head of the Department of Economy: the leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, and the economist Andreu Mas-Colell.
"If things go on like this, let's ask ourselves: who will want to do politics under these conditions? What kind of democracy will we have if we citizens are afraid to participate in public life? The Minister cited a book by Harvard economist Daron Acemoglu - who will be giving a lecture at the Cercle this Friday - entitled The Narrow Corridor which shows "how easy it is for states to slide towards despotic and oppressive ways of doing things and become a Leviathan in confrontation with the society they are supposed to protect and make flourish".
"Something similar is happening in Catalonia with the harassment by the State", he added. According to Giró, "the opposite situation to the corridor of freedom is the road to political, moral and economic ruin".