Catalan government puts Spain's outstanding debt with Catalonia at €6 billion

VP Aragonès wants to "bring back to the table" the content of taxes annulled by Spain’s Constitutional Court

Pere Aragonès, Catalan Vice-president and Minister of Economy and Treasury, has put a figure of 6 billion euros on the cash "that should be on the table, if Spain wants to comply with all that the current financing system entails". In an interview with the CNA, the minister noted that payment of this amount "is the bare minimum", as it is a debt that comes from "unfulfilled" commitments.

As to negotiations with Spain, he said that "government-to-government work" would take priority across multilateral organs such as the Tax and Finance Policy Council, which up to now "has not been of much use". He also stated that: "We will not swap the political commitment from October 1st and all that goes with it for a little more income tax revenue ... we are beyond that stage".

On a different note, when asked about the possible recovery of taxes annulled by the Constitutional Court —such as the audiovisual fee or the tax on bank deposits— Aragonès stated that the objective is for "the content of taxes to be brought back to the table", and mentioned "different ways" of achieving this. The 6 billion euros stems from both “Catalonia’s specific powers, as well as the principle of institutional loyalty, which the Socialist Party itself approved with the Catalan Statute", he clarified.

Specifically, he referred to close to 800 million euros earmarked for Mossos d'Esquadra officers that have joined the force since 2010, 750 million euros for the third additional provision agreed upon for 2008, and almost 3 billion euros more related to this section of the Statute. In addition, there are 1.46 billion euros connected to contributions under the Law of Dependents.

After Pedro Sánchez pointed out that changes to the system cannot be completed until the next term, Aragonès said that the fact that there will be elections in several autonomous regions next year "poses difficulties" to the negotiations in this area. However, he warned that "all of these issues cannot take the place of the right to self-determination" for Catalonia. "This government was not created to negotiate a financing model. That would be like stepping into a time machine traveling back in time 15 years", he said.

Meeting the deficit target

In regards to the deficit, Aragonès is confident that Catalonia will meet the target of 0.4% in 2018, despite the fact that in March the deficit was already 0.34%. Aragonès argued that the first months of the year are not indicative of the year as a whole.

Aragonès, who has already ruled out drafting a budget for 2018, guaranteed that the accounts for 2019 will have higher expenditures than in 2017. The Vice-President said that from a technical point of view everything is in motion to approve the budget before the end of the year and that, if the deadline had to be put back, it would be because of political negotiations. He stated that they will begin to negotiate with the CUP, but have not closed the door on hypothetical support from Catalunya en Comú—Podemos "and, if necessary, from the PSC".

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