Finance minister backtracks on tax pledge just 35 minutes later

“I’m incorrigible – what can I do?” says finance chief Montoro of his gaffe on Monday “We are here to do our jobs, not to make announcements,” he adds

Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro has once again found himself at the center of controversy. On Monday, he announced a tax cut for working mothers, but he issued a correction just 35 minutes later.

Addressing the attendees of a business symposium organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Asociación para el Progreso de la Dirección (ApD), he had announced a number of tax reforms for 2014. “I am not ruling out a new, different tax,” he said. “A negative tax on income, as we previously did in the case of women. We are the only country that did this and now we are in a situation where we can try once more to introduce significant elements such as these in the tax system.”

The minister did not add more details about the reach of the measure – which, it turns out, is already in place. Working women who have a child under the age of three already enjoy an income-tax deduction of €100 a month.

The announcement that I have made is not exactly that, I’m sorry, I’ve not exactly triumphed here again”

After he made the announcement, the secretary of state for finance, Miguel Ferre, informed the minister of his mistake during a private conversation. Montoro waited until the question-and-answer section at the event to clarify that the measure he had announced just minutes before is already in place.

“That already exists,” he told the attendees. “The announcement that I have made is not exactly that, I’m sorry, I’ve not exactly triumphed here again. I’m incorrigible ­– what can I do? We are here to do our jobs, not to make announcements, but to engage in politics,” he continued. “We have a sexist tax in Spain – in the best sense of the word,” he joked.

Sources from the Finance Ministry later explained that in their upcoming fiscal reforms the government wants to include an improvement in conditions for families, and, as such, for working mothers. But the measures will also provide benefits for taxpayers who are taking care of seniors or family members with disabilities.

Words of criticism for Montoro were quick to arrive after the gaffe. The economic policy secretary of the opposition Socialist Party (PSOE), Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero, called the incident “a farce in very bad taste.” She went on to say that the minister “has once again displayed his lack of seriousness and sensitivity with a subject as important as tax […].”

“Women are not happy when jokes like this are made at our expense,” she continued. “The only announcement that the PSOE wants to hear about is for the government to bring back all the resources it has cut from the fight against gender violence.”

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