The Treasury imposed a deficit of 0.1% in the CCAA, which had to apply strong changes to comply with the rule transferred by the minister of the branch, María Jesús Montero, within the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council (CPFF) that held this morning in Madrid. The proposal was opposed en bloc by popular autonomists. “We informed the minister that the proposal is very unfair,” said sources from the Andalusian executive, one of the most critical. Only Asturias and Castilla-La Mancha voted in favor of the measure. The figure promises damage to accounts in the region. Fourteen autonomies will not comply with the current limit, according to Fedea forecasts. The most complex situations are estimated for the Valencian Community, with an estimated deviation of 2.3%, and Murcia, with a deficit of 2.2% for 2023 calculated by the think tank. Only two regions comply. Asturias, the Balearic Islands, and Navarra will close the year with a positive balance.
Moncloa agreed with Brussels to reduce the public deficit to 3% by 2024, with the remaining 2.9% reserved. The Treasury considers that the state bears most of the weight of the anti-inflation measures that will continue to be deployed in the medium term within the ‘social shield’. Sources from the ministry confirmed that the Central Administration is the one that needs to make a greater effort to reduce the deficit. “The road included in the stability plan establishes that the autonomous communities must have a balanced budget, but from the government we propose a greater fiscal margin, a deficit of 0.1%,” explained Montero at the press conference after the CPFF.
The meeting, held a year and a half after the previous one, was tense. In the discomfort of the spending ceiling, there was a heated question session where a good part of the regional councilors expressed to Montero their discomfort with the concessions of the Government of Catalonia in exchange for the investiture agreement that issued again the presidency of Pedro Sanchez in November. The Generalitat, which relegates its aid to two intermediate positions, is in the mouths of the other communities. “The action of the government is also criticized by the autonomous ones managed by the PSOE,” said the sources present at the meeting, pointing to the special displeasure of Castilla-La Mancha in the distribution of the cuts proposed by the Treasury. Emiliano García Page himself did not hide, in recent days, his deep disagreement with Sánchez and demanded the same treatment as given to Catalonia. However, Minister Montero did not detail how he would deploy the mechanism, as confirmed at the end of the meeting by Galician adviser Miguel Corgos.
Break the principle of equality
Nor did the bilateral table that the central executive kept open with the generalitat like. “This is a complete lack of respect for others,” insisted the Andalusian Treasury Department’s Carolina España. The complaint was repeated by all the prominent speakers in the region after the meeting ended. “What we are asking for is something very simple: to be treated equally and that all Spaniards be treated equally, no matter where we live,” said the Minister of Castilla y León, Carlos Fernández Carriedo.
The absence of Catalonia made Montero’s meeting even more bitter. The Catalan Treasury Minister, Natàlia Mas, warned on Saturday that she would not attend the meeting. However, he decided to send the number two of the department, Josep Maria Vilarrúbia, and the general director of the budget, Esther Pallarols. Mas stated that the state maintains an exclusive negotiation open to Catalonia; therefore, its presence within the CPFF has no meaning. A point—the latter—that Minister Montero denied on “repeated” occasions during the meeting, according to the spokesman for the Region of Murcia.
Montero parks regional financing
A long morning at the Ministry of Finance. Apart from the political criticism, the regions make many technical aspects ugly. In particular, the absence of important issues on the agenda, such as regional financing,. The regions insisted on the need to resolve a debate, which the Treasury will continue, at least, until next year. María Jesús Montero confirmed that the government will try to negotiate its reform with the Popular Party, with the aim of approving a text in the entire legislature.
Also affected is the speed of completing account payments to be distributed in 2024. “We have to write budgets without basic information,” several regional spokesmen gathered at the Ministry of Finance insisted. Those from Montero did not include in the previous documentation the account payments that the communities will have, a detail that their team did not disclose until this Monday. “We found out in the middle of the meeting about the account payments through an email,” said Murcian councilor Luis Alberto Marín. The CCAA will receive 154,467 million euros in 2024, according to sources from the Ministry of Finance, which highlights an increase of 14.9% compared to 2023. “In the five years of the government of Pedro Sánchez, the CCAA received 40% more resources than the last 5 years of the government of Mariano Rajoy, which means almost 180,000 million more for the CCAA,” said María Jesús Montero in the press conference after the meeting.