Spanish Government cuts infrastructure investment by 50% in Catalonia and only 25% in the rest of Spain
Barcelona (ACN).- According to a report published on Thursday by Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce, the Spanish Government's investment in infrastructure in Catalonia has dropped by 50% in the last 10 years, while it has been reduced by 25% throughout Spain in the same period. The President of the business association, Miquel Valls, stated that this reduction represents "a break" in the Catalan economy's growth and competitiveness. This political decision harms Spain's and Catalonia's economy, since now Catalonia could be in a better position to speed up the overall economic recovery as Spain's main engine. The Chamber's report takes into account the executed investment made by the Spanish Government and its public companies in areas such as airports, high-speed railway and harbours. In 2006, the Spanish Parliament recognised "a historical" lack of investment in Catalonia when it approved the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and set a minimum investment percentage share to be made in Catalonia to compensate this in the next 7 years. This investment share, which had to be equivalent to at least Catalonia's share within Spain's GDP (19.8%), was never respected by the Spanish Government, allocating to Catalonia 11% or 13% of the total infrastructure investment made throughout Spain in those years. Now, with the Chamber of Commerce's report, it is stressed that this investment has been reduced to an even greater extent than the country's average.
The president of Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce emphasised that infrastructure investment in Catalonia made by the Spanish Government "plummeted" between 2004 and 2014. The Spanish Executive decided to reduce spending in Catalonia by 50%; in Valencia by 33%; and in the Balearic Islands by 31%, while the Spanish average was a 25% reduction. Aragon, Castille-la-Mancha and the region of Madrid registered a higher drop of between 60% and 80%. However, the Chamber explained that many infrastructure investments made in Castille and León and Castille-la-Mancha were for roads or railways heading to Madrid, which is a very small and urban region, and therefore have a direct benefit for Spain's capital. In fact, Castille and León has had an investment increase of 100% and Galicia a growth of around 200% with the construction of the high-speed train railway, among other projects.
The Chamber's report takes into account the executed investment made by the Spanish Public Works and Transportation Ministry and associated companies and agencies, although for the two last years (2013 and 2014) it only considers the planned budget, as budget execution figures are not available yet. Regarding Catalonia, 2009 was a clear inflection point. While in the first five years infrastructure investment grew by 61% throughout Spain and by 76% in Catalonia, in the 5 last years, infrastructure investment has dropped by 53% throughout Spain and by 71% in Catalonia. The entire 10-year period posts an overall drop of 25% for the whole of Spain and 50% for Catalonia.
The Chamber of Commerce explained that these figures were because of political decisions adopted by the Spanish Government. However, it also emphasised the effects of the economic crisis and how the works of Barcelona El Prat Airport's Terminal 1 ended, as well as most of the works of the high-speed railway. In fact, in the last few years the main infrastructure work in Catalonia made by the Spanish Government has been the enlargement of Barcelona's harbour.