The Generalitat's 2017 budget includes 5.8 million euros for the independence referendum that the government has vowed to hold next September. The bill, to which ARA has had access, allocates 5 million euros for electoral processes and 0.8 million to participative processes, which could also include the constituent process. The item can be found in the section that deals with non-departmental funds, which means that its management is in the hands of the Ministry of Economy and not the Interior Ministry.
In addition, the wording of the law —which vice president Oriol Junqueras presented in Parliament on Tuesday and to which ARA has had access— establishes in its additional provision 31 that "the government, within its budgetary responsibilities for 2017, must provide the necessary funding to guarantee the organizational and management resources required to deal with the referendum on Catalonia's political future within the framework of legislation in force at the time it is called”.
"You all know me. Is there anyone who believes that I will not do whatever is necessary to comply with the mandate given to me by the Catalan people? Really?" This was the response from Junqueras during the press conference on Tuesday when he was asked if the Catalan government will call for a referendum even if the TC challenges the sections in question. "I believe that the sections are not subject to challenge", he added, referring to the resources allotted to "electoral and participative processes". In any case, the vice president noted that all governments budget for electoral processes, and this doesn't always correspond with the true costs. "It is a way to have an open section that can be increased", he explained, without giving details as to whether this will be true in the Catalan case.
The Economy Minister avoided speaking of any concealed items and simply said that it is not necessary, as he will "always" do everything necessary to comply with the election "mandate" from September 27, 2015. In any case, he added: "If there was a hidden section, do you think I would tell you?”
The referendum was committed to in two parliamentary motions. The first, agreed upon between JxSí and the CUP, advocates a unilateral approach. The second, approved by JxSí and CSQP, espouses a negotiated approach. Thus, Junqueras noted that the type of referendum to be held --and of which he will be in charge-- is not pre-determined.
This is not the only section of the budget that is tied to the referendum. As ARA announced in last Tuesday's edition, there is also another, hidden within the contingency funds. The goal of the government is to be able to promote the referendum, even if the explicit section is suspended by the Constitutional Court.
The 2014 budget included a section for funds allocated to the November 9th consultation. At that time it was assigned to the Interior Department, with a total of 6 million euros. That consultation, which was suspended by the TC, was eventually held a non-binding participative process, an option that the current government ruled out from the outset.