Catalan President Artur Mas stressed on Wednesday (link in Catalan) that the 10% budget cuts the government has been performing since November, which amount to 2700 million euros, equate to only 20% of Catalonia’s fiscal deficit with Spain. This deficit, according to him, amounts to 15000 million euros. He also explained how in the last few years public spenditure had increased above what the current Generalitat’s financing allows and that it is a priority to put this under control by doing these cuts.
It is extremely important that Mas does this more often, the citizens must understand that the budget cuts in the Catalan welfare state (Catalonia manages the healthcare, education and culture, amongst others, so these budget cuts directly affect the citizens) are not exclusively the Catalan Government’s responsibility and that without the desproportionate fiscal deficit Catalonia suffers there would be no need for them. For instance, recent protests organised by the unions against the cuts have aimed at the Catalan Government when these demonstrations should have been aimed against the Spanish Government.
To solve this problem Mas’ main promise for this term is to achieve a new financing deal for Catalonia so that it collects its own taxes like the Basque Country and Navarre already do, in a similar fashion to how it’s done in federal countries. However, this is going to prove very difficult since Mas’ll try to negotiate this after next years Spanish elections on the assumption that the winner may need CiU’s support but looking at the results of last week’s municipal elections a very likely scenario after next year’s Spanish elections would be for PP to achieve an absolute majority. PP’s leader, Rajoy has already said that he won’t give Catalonia the financing Mas has promised. Then I wonder, what will he explain to his voters?