Catalan Government demands €12bn from the State in meeting on investment deficit
Spanish executive admits the lack of budget execution in Catalonia but believes it has been distorted
BarcelonaFew agreements and lots of criticism is what was expected from the meeting of the Bilateral Infrastructures Committee between the Generalitat and the State held this Friday in Barcelona, and it has delivered. After a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at the Catalan Department of Territory, which neither Spanish nor Catalan ministers attended, the Government has reproached the Spanish executive that "there is no explanation" for the State's investment deficit in Catalonia and demanded a short-term correction. The Spanish government has admitted to the investment deficit and claimed that it is a priority to "reverse the situation", but also claimed that it has sought to create an image of disinvestment "that does not conform to reality".
For the Generalitat, the problem arises from two factors. The first is non-compliance with the third additional provision of the 2006 Catalan Autonomy Statute, relating to State investment in Catalonia. According to the Secretary General of the Catalan Department of Territory, Ricard Font, the provision was only respected in two years, 2007 and 2008, and yet in that second year it is yet to be paid in full. The second element to take into account, according to the Government, is the deficit in the State's budget execution in Catalonia. And this is how Font has calculated that the State owes the Catalan administration €12.3bn. In short, he assured that this was the bill to pay so that "the State recovers its credit in Catalonia", at least in investment matters,
This meeting was called two weeks ago, when data from the Ministry of Finance made it explicit that the Spanish government had only executed 35% of the state budgets in Catalonia for the year 2021, while in that same period it had executed 184% in Madrid. This outraged the Generalitat, which agreed to address the investment crisis in this bilateral body.
After Font's appearance on behalf of the Generalitat, it was the State's turn. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Infrastructures, Xavier Flores, admitted that the investment figures could be improved, but added that the Treasury data does not fully reflect reality. For example, he has said that if you look at the report in depth it also shows that in 2021 there were in Catalonia €700m were invested in "certified work", and this makes it the leading community in this aspect. Also the one that received the most money from real infrastructure operator Adif: €170m. "We want to execute more, it is true, but it is not true that Catalonia is in that [bad] position," he resolved. Regarding the €12bn the Generalitat demands, he said the figures were "cooked" and were unconvincing.
Neither has there been an agreement about the diagnosis on whether or not the State is complying with investments in commuter trains and freight trains, but reproaches returned to surface with forcefulness when it came time to talk about the B-40 motorway. Flores complained that, when he wanted to talk about the subject, his interlocutors from the Generalitat the topic was off the table. "I was told that this was not the time today," he lamented. The problem, the Spanish government suspects, is that this new road divides the Catalan coalition government. "People need to know the projects they want to carry out," Flores criticised. Font admitted he said today "was not the time" to talk about this matter and promised that, when a firm proposal by the State is made, the Catalan government will take a decision in a united way.