Barcelona (ACN).- During the main institutional ceremony of Catalonia’s National Day, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, sent a warning message to Spain, only a few hours before the start of the massive demonstration in Barcelona supporting independence. Mas, who is also the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), addressed international media in English. He stated that “if there is not an agreement on the economic bases”, “Catalonia’s way to freedom is open”. The Catalan President was answering Spanish Prime Minister and leader of the People’s Party (PP), Mariano Rajoy, who is refusing to negotiate a new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain, reducing the Catalan solidarity contribution. Official studies made by the Spanish Finance Ministry in 2005 stated that Catalonia was contributing between 6.4% and 8.7% (depending on the formula used) of its annual GDP to pay for services and investments in the rest of Spain and the European Union. However the Catalan Government has calculated that Catalonia has been giving away each year 8.5% of its GDP during the last 20 years, the equivalent of €17 billion per year with figures from 2011. Last year, the Catalan Government had a 3.7% deficit, the equivalent of €7 billion, despite making drastic budget cuts in the public services, administration and investments. Furthermore, this year, Catalonia will have to adjust its budget by €4 billion to meet the 1.5% deficit target imposed by the Spanish Government. Given the situation, the Catalan Government maintains that Spain’s current fiscal scheme asphyxiates Catalonia’s economy and public services. In fact, the Catalan parties and civil society organisations, and in particular business associations, have been blaming the Spanish Government’s lack of investment in infrastructure in Catalonia. Since the Spanish Government and the rest of Spain seem indifferent or directly oppose this claim, many Catalan citizens are now supporting independence from Spain for economic reasons, which are added to cultural and historical aspects. The Catalan President will meet with Rajoy on September 20th and has asked Catalan citizens to back him with this Tuesday’s demonstration to make Rajoy understand the need for such a fiscal agreement.
“If there is not an agreement on the economic bases”, “Catalonia’s way to freedom is open”
After the main institutional event of Catalonia’s National Day, Artur Mas, addressed international press. He stated the following: “It won’t be an easy deal with the Central Government but my goal is to try to reach an agreement with the Central Government on the economic area. And to try to protect Catalunya and to give our country the tools we need to build our future, our national future. If there is not an agreement on the economic bases, you know that Catalunya’s way for freedom is open. And we will have a clear proof this evening in the capital city of our country”.
The PP refuses to negotiate a new fiscal agreement
The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated this morning that Catalonia should now have other priorities, such as creating jobs, ensuring the recovery from the economic crisis and meeting the fiscal obligations. “It’s not time for mess and controversies” he said referring to the new fiscal agreement and Barcelona’s massive demonstration for independence.
Furthermore, the PP’s Secretary General, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, who is also the President of Castilla-la-Mancha, said on Monday that this Tuesday’s demonstration supporting Catalonia’s independence “goes against the Constitution”. Therefore, according to Cospedal, Tuesday’s peaceful demonstration “is unconstitutional” and therefore is “illegal”. In the same press conference, Cospedal criticised the President of Extremadura, José Antonio Monago, who is a member of the PP, for saying he would reduce VAT in this Autonomous Community. However, Cospedal did not comment on Monago’s words denouncing Catalonia for asking for more money. The President of Extremadura, which receives between 14% and 17.5% of its GDP in subsidies according to the Spanish Finance Ministry’s data, stated last weekend “Catalonia asks for money and Extremadura pays”. In fact, similar statements were made by the Presidents of Galicia and La Rioja, also from the PP.
The Catalan PP warns it will stop giving parliamentary support to CiU
The President of the Catalan People’s Party, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, stated this Tuesday morning they will stop giving their parliamentary support to the Catalan Government. Sánchez-Camacho criticised the Catalan President for taking the side of independence supporters. She also said they can no longer negotiate with a government that “pushes for and legitimises” a demonstration supporting independence from Spain.