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Minister threatens regions failing to comply with 2012 deficit target

Andalusia and Catalonia are said to be biggest transgressors

Madrid has “more power than ever” to intervene, says Montoro

Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro warned Thursday that regions that do not meet the central administration’s deficit-reduction goals at the end of this year face possible sanctions, including intervention in their finances by Madrid.

Publicly, the finance chief singled out Andalusia and Catalonia as two of the worst offenders when it came to ignoring the government’s deficit-reduction plan, and said that next week his ministry will begin publishing on its website where all of Spain’s 17 regions stand in terms of compliance.

In an aside with reporters during Constitution Day ceremonies, Montoro said the central government was doing its part to try to bring down Spain’s national deficit to 6.3 percent of GDP by the end of the month as part of its agreement with Brussels. But he added there didn’t appear to be any similar efforts being made in the regions, including those governed by the ruling Popular Party (PP).

With the exception of Catalonia, which is governed by the Catalan nationalist CiU bloc, and Andalusia, where Socialist José Antonio Griñán is premier, Montoro declined to name other regions that were failing to comply. Nevertheless, government sources said other transgressors included Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha, which both have PP premiers.

The Financial Stability Law, which was passed early this year, gives the central government “more power than ever” to sanction or intervene in the regions, Montoro said. The Rajoy administration set a goal for all regional governments to reduce their deficits to 1.5 percent of GDP this year. But it won’t be known until February whether individual regions complied or not.

Catalan premier Artur Mas has said it will be impossible for his region to meet the target.