Catalonia to fight “illegal” deficit-reduction burden on regions

Premier Artur Mas to roll over 2012 budget for region while railing against unfair financing system

Catalan premier Artur Mas on Tuesday confirmed the regional government would not draw up a budget for this year and announced his administration’s intention to appeal against what he described as the “illegal” distribution among regions of the burden of reducing the state’s public deficit.

The decision to roll over the 2012 budget was taken after Mas’s ruling center-right nationalist coalition group, CiU, and its partner in the regional assembly, the leftwing ERC, concluded that it would be impossible to formulate a budget for 2013 that would allow the government to square its books based on the public deficit set for this year by Madrid of 1.58 percent of GDP.

Catalonia has sought a target of 1.8 percent of GDP, compared with the goal of 1.3 percent set for the country’s 17 regions as whole.

The Catalan government claims that the unequal distribution of the deficit-cutting burden among the regions “breaches the Budget Stability Law because it fails to heed the timetable it sets and goes against the principle of proportionality.”

Mas said Catalonia had been fighting for 30 years for an improvement in the country’s funding system, insisting that the burden it has to bear in swelling the state’s coffers is disproportionate.

“We won’t forego the money that is due to us,” he said. “We will fight for it to the last cent.”

Extending the 2012 budget into 2013 will also involve further spending cuts but allows the minority Mas government to avoid arduous debate on new budget proposals in the regional assembly.

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