Barcelona (ACN).-Catalonia needs to “come together” in the wake of the new austerity measures announced this Wednesday by Spanish president Mariano Rajoy. Catalan President Artur Mas urged all Catalans to be strong after Madrid introduced a 3% VAT rise, a 50% cut on unemployment benefits from the sixth month out of work, a suspension on Christmas pay, 30% cuts in some local authorities and 20% cuts to subsidies for political parties and unions, amongst other measures. In total, Rajoy is aiming to save 65bn euros in two years in exchange for the euro zone of Spain’s bank and the change to its deficit targets.
Mas said the new measures announced by Rajoy show his improvisation in the management of the crisis. The Catalan President said “it is to be seen” how the cuts and reforms affect the economical situation in Spain and whether or not they improve confidence in the markets. However, he was confident Catalonia will come out of the crisis. He said it is “ in everyone’s interest” to work together to fight for Catalan claims such as a new fiscal pact in order “to get out of this complicated situation”. “I know it is possible”, he added.
The ‘Brussels’ path
The Catalan Minister for the Economy, Andreu Mas-Colell, said the new austerity measures announced by Spain follow “the path” marked by Brussels to “consolidate the euro”. Therefore, he admitted feeling “sympathetic” to the line of work announced by Rajoy although he did not like all of it.
What the Catalan government will not support in any case, said Mas-Colell, is a new attempt to recentralise powers to Madrid. The Catalan minister argued that recentralisation is not a solution to the crisis but rather a political policy. Mas-Colell also urged Rajoy to “compensate” in some way the autonomous communities for the VAT rise. He said that would be fair because regions won’t benefit from the rise in their budgets despite having to pay more for services and goods.
In statements to the press, the spokesman of the Catalan government, Francesc Homs, said the new Rajoy plan shows that “is Brussels that dictates what to do”. Homs criticised the VAT rise and questioned whether the cuts in local councillors would be effective. In that sense, he praised the work of the many mayors and councillors that do their job properly and challenged the attitude of some members of the People’s Party of Rajoy that have been involved in corruption cases at a local and regional level. Homs praised the decision to cut Spanish public workers’ salaries, an initiative that is already in place in Catalonia.