Marcos Lamelas. Barcelona
The budgetary extension has left the Generalitat without margin for new policies. And the main harmed one is ERC. Its strong man the economic vice-president Pere Aragonès needs to demonstrate that he can develop policies to improve the lives of Catalans. But it literally cannot. The Generalitat is economically strangled and managing the year 2019 with a budget of 2017. This is recognized by the Action Plan of the ‘conselleria’ to which El Confidencial has had access and which warns that only will be guaranteed the “maintenance of the level of the fundamental public services, and, on the other hand, the fulfillment of all the unavoidable commitments of expenditure that from the outset cannot be taken care of with the extended accounts”.
Therefore, there is no money for new policies. No programs. Nothing. Some days, there are parish leaflets with more pages than the Govern agreements that are presented to the press on Tuesdays. But one of the objectives of the Republicans was precisely to deploy policies and that they could be judged by their management. The problem is that, without money, little can be shown by any politician.
On the contrary, instead of spending savings have been implemented. On March 11 the ‘conselleria’ convened a joint meeting of the Interdepartmental Group for Economic Management (GiGE) and the Economic Management Network (XAGE, for its acronym in Catalan) to determine how areas could be identified in which the expense which could not be considered “inescapable” could be adjusted, as stated in the Action Plan.
This Plan calculates the mismatch between what was budgeted in 2017 and the funds needed in the current year 2019. The amount would total 2,275.6 million euros.
Within this item, there are 1,235 million that do not correspond to personnel expenses, and “among the 1,235.9 million, 47.8 million would be urgent (3.9%) and 52.6 million would be revisable to some extent (4,3%). The rest, 1,135 million, would be, therefore, urgent and not revisable”, says the ‘conselleria’ headed by Pere Aragonès.
The Action Plan proposes maneuvers to cover these 1,235 million additional expenses. To start, it qualifies expenses as “level 3”, which add up to 131.5 million euros, warning them that “level 3 needs would not be included in this context of prioritization, due to lack of global coverage, of the needs of level 1 and 2”. Therefore, this means a cut by this amount.
For the rest there are mechanisms to obtain these funds, beyond a loan of 800 million that has been dedicated exclusively to the payment of payroll.
Out of thin air
The ‘conselleria’ of Economy focuses in the Plan in looking for money out of thin air, warning that seven of the 13 ‘consellerias’ have presented insufficient measures to cover the excess of planned expense. The departments are not identified in the text.
Among the measures proposed in the Action Plan, 292 million payments in the Health area could be deferred to future years. It also puts on the table to carry out transfers between ‘consellerias’ to play with the surplus cash from some departments in favor of others more in need.
The priority of Aragonès has focused on maintaining the payrolls and the salary increases of public workers. The rest is left in the air
The Plan also opens the door to “introduce regulatory changes in certain taxes” and also to seek ways of new funds from the central Government.
In the plan of measures it is recommended “to review costs and models of provision of services”, and also other less orthodox measures, such as playing with the treasury remnants.
“Regular follow-up meetings will be held within the framework of the Interdepartmental Economic Management Group (GiGE) and the Economic Management Network (XAGE), for the duration of the budget extension”.
The Ministry of Economy warns that there will also be a monthly evaluation of the degree of compliance with the measures proposed by each department and the evolution of the needs. Likewise, an analysis of the risks of compliance with the deficit, debt and expenditure rule objectives will be carried out each month, which will be presented to the Technical Council and the Govern. This is exactly what has been said: in fact, a Generalitat financially strangled.