Government budget for 2017 allocates €5.8 M for pro-independence referendum
The Government’s draft budget for 2017 presented to the Parliament's President, Carme Forcadell, this Tuesday includes an allocation of €5.8 million to guarantee that the pro-independence referendum scheduled for September will be carried out. In particular, the bill establishes €5 million for electoral processes and €0.8 million for participation. Moreover, the budget also includes hidden allocations which would allow the referendum to take place despite the inevitable suspension of the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC). In 2014, the budget also allocated €6 million oriented toward holding the 9-N symbolic vote in independence. At that time, the allocation was included within the Public Administrations department. However, this time the allocation would be an explicit competence of the Catalan Ministry for Economy and Tax Office.
Barcelona (CNA).- The budget for 2017 foresees an allocation of €5.8 million to carry out the pro-independence referendum which the Government committed to call next September. In particular, the draft which will be put to vote before the Parliament establishes €5 million for electoral processes and €0.8 million for participation. Moreover, the budget also anticipates the inevitable suspension of the referendum allocation by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) and includes hidden allocations so that it could be carried out anyway. Contrary to what happened in 2014, when the budget also allocated €6 million within the Public Administrations department to guarantee the celebration of the 9-N symbolic vote on independence, this time the allocation is an explicit competence of the Catalan Ministry for Economy and Tax Office.
The bill is to be presented this Tuesday by Catalan Vice president and Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras and put to vote in the Parliament. Its additional regulation number 31 establishes that “the Government, within its budgetary availability for 2017, has to foresee allocations which guarantee the resources in relation to organising and managing the referendum on Catalonia’s political future within the legal framework in force when it will be called”.
Moreover, the €5.8 million allocation is not the only one oriented toward holding the pro-independence referendum in the second half of September 2017. There will also be hidden allocations included in the emergency measures plan so that the referendum can be carried out despite the inevitable suspensions of the explicit allocation by the TC.
Spanish Government will consider the “impugnability” of the budget
Indeed, the Spanish Minister for Justice, Rafael Catalá, stated on Monday that the Spanish Government will evaluate the Catalan Government’s budget and will consider it an “impugnment it if it includes a line for the referendum.
Catalá outlined that governments, whether state, regional or local “cannot foresee obligations that are improper, outside of their competences or beyond their responsibilities”. As an example, the Spanish Minister said that if a City Council wanted to do biomedical research or invade powers of the Catalan Government, the Catalan institution would reject these budgets. “Surely the Government would not allow it”, he said, and therefore, if the Catalan Parliament approves a budget line for the referendum, the Spanish Government will consider a possible appeal.
Catalá also said that the Conservative People’s Party (PP) negotiated with all the regions of Spain during the last term and will continue to do so in this one, to the extent of its “constitutional and financial” possibilities. However, he warned that “dialogue does not mean saying okay to a referendum no matter what”. “This is an imposition”, he added. “We do not want to impose, but we do not want to be imposed upon either”, he warned. The Minister, therefore, offered “his hand” to talk about “the things that concern Catalan society”.
Government’s budget need CUP’s support
One of the main hurdles between the Catalan executive and radical left pro-independence CUP, their partner in the Government, has revolved around the budget for 2017. After the latter refused to pass the bill last June, which led to the vote of confidence promoted by Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, on Saturday they gave the green light to the so-called Accompaniment Law for the 2017 budget. However, CUP MP, Eulàlia Reguant insisted that allowing the bill to be put to vote didn’t imply backing the budget. “It is a ‘yes’ to proceed with the budget, not a ‘yes’ to the budget: we say ‘yes’ to start discussing the bill in Parliament, in the streets and everywhere”, noted Reguant.
Thus, the Secretary for Tax Office understands CUP’s support as “a good start”, but warned that “the negotiation continues in order to build spaces of consensus” and called for “everybody’s generosity, efforts and responsibility” so that the budget can ultimately be passed. “If we are not able to reach an agreement and pass an autonomic bill then we will hardly be trustworthy for the rest of the process”, she stated.