REGIONAL FINANCES

New regional financing system will not favor Catalonia, Rajoy insists

Reform will be addressed in 2014 and not before, as some premiers have urged

María de Cospedal, Mariano Rajoy and Javier Arenas after meeting of Popular Party barons.
María de Cospedal, Mariano Rajoy and Javier Arenas after meeting of Popular Party barons.ULY MARTIN

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday sought to assure regional conservative Popular Party (PP) barons that the new financing system planned for the country will not favor Catalonia as a means of assuaging its sovereignty aspirations.

During a meeting of the PP’s Executive Committee, Rajoy insisted he had not reached any agreement with Catalan premier Artur Mas and that the new system would continue to be underpinned by the tenet of solidarity. “I don’t have a pact – it’s not true,” he said, adding that the reform would be “carried out for everyone and with everyone.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the PP’s number two, Castilla-La Mancha premier María Dolores de Cospedal, said: “The PP has always been against the current financing model, but prudence suggests that it should be changed when it is possible to do so, not in the middle of a crisis but in a situation of growth.”

The PP’s secretary general said the leader of the Catalonia branch of the party, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, had made it clear that she did not want a funding arrangement for the northeastern region that would discriminate against the rest of Spain. “The regional premiers who participated in the debate spoke in favor of guaranteeing the solidarity of the system,” De Cospedal added.

In response to a proposal by Sánchez-Camacho calling for limits to be placed on solidarity, a number of barons urged Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro not to question this principle, leading Montoro to seek to calm them by guaranteeing that this would not be the case.

Rajoy pledged to have funding arrangements for the regions in place before the start of 2014, but in an article published Monday in EL PAÍS, Madrid premier Ignacio González, of the PP, urged the government to address the reform of the current system before the end of the year, and pointed out during Monday’s meeting that the current arrangement, which was put in place by the Socialist government in 2009, expires in three months.

Rajoy insisted that the government had an agenda for its proposed reforms, which include an overhaul of the country’s tax system. Montoro last week also said the issue of regional funding would not be on the agenda for this year.

In his article, González called on the Rajoy administration to approve the new regional financing law by January 1, as dictated by the law and as agreed at a regional premiers' conference a year ago. The Madrid premier said the reforms needed to "end the injustice and incoherencies of the current model."