- The head of the Catalan government stresses the “immense, even colossal efforts” that the government has made over the past two years in order to control the deficit. He points out that ordinary expenditure has been reduced by 4,200 million Euros.
- Artur Mas calls upon the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) to join the declaration on Catalan sovereignty that will be voted tomorrow in Parliament and reminds it that “we have all made concessions in order to include other parties”.
The Catalan President, Artur Mas, gave a press conference today after the weekly cabinet meeting during which he evaluated the austerity policies and the control of the deficit that the government has pursued over the past two years. Mas underlined that “we are doing our homework: as far as the deficit of the Generalitat is concerned, we have entered the control phase”. He added that “we could already have the deficit under control and stabilized the situation in Catalonia if we had received loyal collaboration from the Spanish central government”.
The head of government explained that an “immense, even colossal effort” has been made and that during the past two years the ordinary expenses of the Generalitat were reduced by 4,200 million Euros, i.e. 5.7 million Euros “every day, during two years, without interruption”.
In this respect, the President stated that the situation in Catalonia “is clearly more under control than it was two years ago, which was our obligation”, but he indicated that if the Spanish government “had acted correctly, the Generalitat would have met the deficit targets in 2012, in spite of the economic recession, the lack of balanced fiscal arrangements and a monstrous public deficit”.
President Mas observed that the Catalan government is “doing its homework” and that “we are getting very close to the deficit targets” in spite of the “enormous difficulties”. “We are making huge austerity efforts with tangible and evident results, while having to endure this great disloyalty on the part of the Spanish government”, the President said, who also criticized the fact that the central government “reserves a part of the deficit margin for itself that corresponds to the autonomous communities; it does not act, but does not allow others to act either. It does not pay what it owes, and in addition raises taxes and keeps all the extra income this generates to itself”. Artur Mas concluded that “this leads Catalonia and its government to a state of asphyxia, something that more than justifies the direction Catalonia has decided to take, going its own way”.
With regard to the deficit target fixed by the Spanish government for 2013, the head of the Catalan government explained that “we are being asked, in full recession, to do the same in one year as we have done, with huge efforts, in two years”, which led him to conclude that “this is absolutely disproportionate and we are fully entitled to say so, as we have applied austerity out of conviction”. The President defended austerity as a value, but he warned of "the risk to turn austerity into a form of fundamentalism".
The head of government used the occasion to thank the members of the Catalan government for the consolidation efforts they have made during the past two years, in particular the Minister of Economic Affairs and Science. He also expressed his gratitude to public servants and other public sector workers for the "efforts and sacrifices” made, as well as Catalan businesses and civil society “who are helping Catalonia meet its obligations”.
“We have all made concessions, now it’s up to the PSC to make a move”
During the press conference, in response to questions from journalists on the negotiations with the Catalan socialists on their adherence to the declaration of sovereignty submitted to Parliament by the CiU and the ERC, president Mas put forward that “it is now up to the PSC to make a move”, after “all of us have made concessions to include other parties”. Thus, the Catalan president asked the socialist party to “make an effort in the national interest and not exclude itself from a vote of historical transcendence”. “We are willing to seek common ground to allow them to come on board, but that requires a positive, generous, perhaps even slightly daring attitude if they want to avoid ending up on the wrong side”, he stressed.
“Tomorrow there will be a coalition representing a large majority of Parliament, and a minority which legitimately disagrees, but a clear minority nonetheless", he said, adding that “it cannot be that the PSC chooses to be part of this clear minority and refuse to be part of the majority coalition at such a transcendental moment”. “Tomorrow in Parliament we will not decide whether Catalonia should become a State, but whether it has the right to freely decide its own future. Pere Navarro, the leader of the PSC, stated that he agrees with this. But no country can decide its own future if it lacks sovereignty”, he pointed out.
“Everybody at some point has to renounce something he would like to have or would like to be different”, Mas insisted, “but we should not forget the transcendence of the moment, nor what is at stake for us as a country and a society”, he observed.
“Many politicians are honest”
Asked about recent corruption cases, the President wanted to make clear that “it is not true that the whole country nor all politicians are corrupt”, stressing that “there are many people who act honestly, out of a true desire to serve and make sacrifices”. Nonetheless, he argued that what is needed is a “full cleanup” and an effort “to learn from these experiences”. “It’s annoying and frustrating that these practices are shown to exist, but it is best that all of it is fully exposed so it can serve as a final antidote helping the country and politics to recover the normal course that never should have been abandoned”, the President concluded.