Tuesday, 07 February 2017

‘Ciutadans’ and PSC to delay budget amid controversy over referendum allocation


Barcelona (CNA).- The passing of the bill for 2017, scheduled for this month, will be delayed. The draft will have to be analysed by the Council for Statutory Guarantees, the body responsible for checking whether the Catalan Government’s regulations comply with the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and the Spanish Constitution, at the request of two political groups. Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’ and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) see a competences conflict in those items allocated for calling “a new 9-N” and noted that other budget lines are “unclear” and may be “hidden” in order to ultimately hold the referendum in September 2017. Although the resolution of the Council won’t be binding, since it is an advisory body, the procedure will postpone the passing of the draft.

The groups can request a resolution from the Council for Statutory Guarantees (CGE in Catalan) over the budget for 2017 until Friday. The Accompaniment Law can also be taken before this body, in this case until Thursday. ‘Ciutadans’ Spokesman, Carlos Carrizosa, announced that his party will take both laws before the Council, however he didn’t specify when, since the appeal “is complex”. He assured that the party’s legal team is already working on it.

On the other hand, PSC’s spokeswoman in the Parliament, Eva Granados, explained their decision in relation to the allocation for the referendum. “An economic item can be allocated for doing something which requires changing the law”, said Granados and pointed out that this modification “doesn’t depend on the body which executes the budget”, that is to say, the Catalan Government. Moreover, they want the Council for Statutory Guarantees to pronounce on the budget and confirm whether this ruling could “create uncertainty if executed” and could “affect the juridical security” of the whole bill. According to Granados, the CGE “can’t deny” the political context in which the item for the “illegal referendum” has been allocated. 

Although the resolution of the CGE won’t be binding, since it is an advisory body, the procedure will postpone the passing of the draft. Indeed, the debate on the draft was scheduled for this Wednesday and the passing could have been confirmed this month.

‘JxSí’ confident over the Council resolution

Governing party, pro-independence ‘Junts Pel Sí’ responded to ‘Ciutadans’ and ‘PSC’s decision and insisted that the bill for 2017 “is absolutely legal and legitimate from a political perspective”. ‘Junts Pel Sí’ MP Roger Torrent admitted to being “almost sure” that the Council will concur. “We can’t conceive that the CGE won’t agree with us”, he explained in a press conference this Tuesday and accused PSC of being “by the filibusters’ side” and “denying the right to decide”, in relation to their comments on the referendum. Plus, he added that with their attitude, the PSC is “is blocking” the passage of the 1,350 million for social expenditure included in the bill.

According to Torrent, it is “legitimate” to take the budget for 2017 before the CGE but insisted that the Government will work in order to have the required mechanisms to call the referendum, scheduled for this year, “regardless of what will happen with the budget and with the whole parliamentarian activity”. 

The budget for 2017, one of the hurdles between ‘JxSí’ and CUP

Radical pro-independence CUP, the main partner of governing party ‘Junts Pel Sí’, refused to pass the bill for 2016 last June, which led to the vote of confidence promoted by Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont. They considered the numbers presented then to be “too autonomic” rather than responding to the pro-independence aspirations of Catalonia and not “social-oriented enough”. Thus, the bill for 2015 had to be extended.

Earlier this year, they supported the new version but insisted that their ‘yes’ will be subject to the Government’s commitment with the referendum.

The bill, which has been described by Catalan Vice President and Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras, as “the best budget possible” is deeply social-oriented. Indeed, more than 74% of the total bill for 2017 is allocated for social expenditure and €1.1 billion more has been allocated for this purpose in comparison to the budget for 2015, which had to be extended for 2016. According to Junqueras, the draft budget especially focuses on “fiscal justice”, which he described as a fundamental pillar for Catalonia’s economic growth. 

  • MPs_in_the_Catalan_Parliament

  • MPs in the Catalan Parliament (by ACN)