Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Budget for 2017 passes first hurdle but gets little support from CUP


Barcelona (CNA).- The Parliament is debating  this Tuesday and Wednesday the budget for 2017. The first hurdle has already been overcome, since 2 MPs from radical left pro-independence CUP, the main partner of governing cross party 'Junts Pel Sï', supported the bill. The other 8 in the party abstained from vote. The bill, which has been described by Catalan Vice President and Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras, as “the best budget possible” is deeply social-oriented. Indeed, more than 74% of the total bill for 2017 is allocated for social expenditure and €1.1 billion more has been allocated for this purpose in comparison to the budget for 2015, which had to be extended for 2016. According to Junqueras, the draft budget especially focuses on “fiscal justice”, which he described as a fundamental pillar for Catalonia’s economic growth. 

“We have many difficulties and many more are being put in our way, but it is clear that our economy and our society are capable of making it through”, he stated on the first day of the two-day session during which the Parliament will vote on proceeding with the budget for 2017. Junqueras said that he is convinced that Catalonia’s economic growth is “solid, intense and diverse”.

The budget for 2017 increases by €1.52 billion total expenditure in comparison to the bill for 2015 and most of this increase, some €1.17 billion, will be allocated to social expenditure. In total, the amount allocated for social purposes amounts to €17,831.8 million. This figure is also €344.9 million higher than that presented by Junqueras in June 2016 and later vetoed by radical left pro-independence CUP, which led to the extension of the budget for 2015 to the current year.  

In particular, the Health System with €8.7 billion and Education and Universities with €5.5 billion are the areas with the highest amounts allocated. 

Looking for CUP’s support

The debate which will last until this Wednesday aims to discuss the parties’ appeals of the budget and to admit the bill to proceed. This Tuesday's the support of 2 CUP MP and the abstention of the other 8, allowed the bill to proceed. However, the final vote on the budget is due in February and CUP hasn’t expressed its position on this matter yet. 

CUP, the main partner of governing party ‘Junts Pel Sí’, refused to pass the bill for 2016 last June, which led to the vote of confidence promoted by Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont. They considered the numbers presented then to be “too autonomic” rather than responding to the pro-independence aspirations of Catalonia. Thus, the bill for 2015 had to be extended.

CUP have decided to give their support to the current draft for 2017 to be put to vote. However, they have repeatedly insisted that this doesn’t mean backing the bill but rather allowing the debate. In this vein, CUP MP, Eulàlia Reguant contradicted Junqueras and assured that this budget “is not the best possible”. “Despite the Spanish Government’s and the ‘Troika’s impositions, there is still much room to explore and yet this has not been done”, she lamented. “A budget which doesn’t explore all the possible room is not ours”, she stated. 

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  • Catalan Vice President and Minister for Economy, Oriol Junqueras, presenting the Budget for 2017 to the Parliament (by ACN)