Public reply to the Wall Street Journal
This is in reply to an article published on the WSJ on April the 16th 2012: Pressure on Spain builds as bonds face key auction
First of all, Spain is not a decentralised country. Only spending is decentralised but taxes are collected by the Spanish government and then redistributed. This redistribution means that every year for the last 30 years Spain extracts 8% of Catalonia’s GDP which never comes back. This means 40% of all Catalan taxpayer’s money goes to Madrid and never comes back. Or another way of looking at it, it cost every Catalan person 2200 euros to be part of Spain in 2009. Clearly unsustainable. I explained this in more detail here.
Spain applies the same treatment to the other Catalan speaking countries: the Valencian Country and Balearic Islands. Instead of reinvesting in their most dynamic areas they impoverish them by depleting their resources. This year Spain has reduced Catalonia’s budget for infrastructures by 45% compared to last year. Even though Catalonia is responsible for 20% of Spain’s GDP and 26% of its exports only receives 10% of the infrastructures investment. At the same time Spain keep boosting their delirious nationalistic infrastructures policy by building a high speed train to Galicia.
If we look at Catalonia, its debt problem would be easily solved by stopping the resources plundering, which amounts to 16.4bn euro only in 2009. Then its 48bn euro debt would be inexistent and it would instead show a superavit.
Overall, Spanish Autonomous Communities only account for around 20% of the overall Spanish debt. In most of them they’ve had PP governments (or PSOE in the others, which also means Spanish nationalist governments). Therefore claiming that the “regions” are the culprits for the debt issue is just wanting to look for a scapegoat (Catalonia) and not acknowledging that Spanish nationalism is the only one to blame for this.
Last year Catalonia was the only Automous Community to make a budget cut, 10% of its spending, and took some very unpopular measures, like reducing Catalan Civil Servant’s salaries and cutting on healthcare and education budgets.
In the meantime Spanish Autonomous Communities are doing the opposite. Andalucía for instance, are expanding their budget for 2012. Spain hasn’t reduced Civil Servants’ salaries and amongst some of the first measures to take should be reducing the amount of Ministries that have no real job because healthcare, education or housing are responsibilities of the Autonomous Communities. Reducing spending in the military, for instance, and boosting investment in its most dynamic areas to get out of the crisis. Instead they are doing quite the opposite driven by a nationalist agenda.
Catalonia has been the only responsible entity in Spain. Therefore, painting a picture in which all the regions are culprits, is a means to achieve the end to attack Catalonia’s self government. But this has nothing to do with the crisis and will not improve Spain’s finances. It only serves to reinforce their Spanish nationalist discourse and to divert public attention from the Spanish government incompetence and the real causes of the crisis.