Budget time has arrived

Catalan parliament will today and tomorrow debate accounts for 2017 and almost 2,000 amendments, with referendum agreement set to go through

Fourteen months since the government was formed and nine since the first attempt at passing the 2016 budget was defeated, the Catalan parliament will today and tomorrow debate the accounts agreed between Junts pel Sí and CUP for 2017. In the past months, the two parties have negotiated the details of the budget, even though over the next two days some 1,834 amendments will have to be debated.

Curiously, the last stumbling block agreement on the budget had to overcome was not economic or financial but political. Specifically, an official complaint by the C's, PSC and PP parties on the constitutionality of devoting financial resources to the future referendum on independence. Despite discrepancies on the issue among the independence parties, the debate now centers on when and how to begin the process of splitting from the State in coming months, on calling the referendum, whether it will require its own legislation and when it should finally be voted on.

Beyond the referendum issue, debate has also focused on the increase in resources due to higher revenue thanks to the improvement in the economic situation and the reduction of the interest rate, which have substantially raised the funds available in the 2017 budget. Much of the extra funds will be devoted to social ends.

To the extra 1.17 billion euros orginally foreseen for this year must be added 35 million already set aside for the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income, and the 140 million destined to education. Specifically, 5,500 new teachers will be taken on (two thousand more than the 3,500 originally agreed).

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