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Catalonia to central government ahead of referendum: No more spending reports

Finance Ministry plans to take direct control of invoice payments in response to latest secessionist challenge

Barcelona / Madrid

The regional government in Catalonia has sent a letter to the Finance Ministry in Madrid stating that it will no longer send monthly reports detailing how it is spending public funds. The arrangement was in place so that the central government in Madrid could ensure that not a single euro of tax revenues is going toward the illegal referendum on independence for the northeastern Spanish region that the Catalan authorities are determined to hold on October 1.

Catalan deputy premier Oriol Junqueras and premier Carles Puigdemont.
Catalan deputy premier Oriol Junqueras and premier Carles Puigdemont. EL PAÍS

The message – which was penned by the deputy regional premier Oriol Junqueras, who also serves as the Catalan economy chief – was sent to Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro, and explains that the decision has been taken to not supply details of the accounting related to the costs of organizing the poll. In response, the Finance Ministry will be approving on Friday measures to further restrict the finances of the Catalan government.

The move comes as tensions between the Catalan regional government and the central government in Madrid reach ever new highs

The move comes as tensions between the Catalan regional government and the central government in Madrid reach ever new highs, with the Popular Party (PP) administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy determined to stop the unofficial vote from taking place. The legal framework for the referendum was fast-tracked through the Catalan parliament last week, and in response the Madrid government has begun a raft of judicial proceedings in a bid to halt it.

In his letter, Junqueras argued that the approval of last week’s legislation, which paves the way for the holding of the independence referendum, has created an “exceptional juridical situation,” one that is incompatible with an agreement that allowed for Madrid to supervise spending in Catalonia.

The regional government argues that such supervision constitutes unwarranted political control

The regional government argues that such supervision constitutes a political control that has no relation with budget stability targets nor relevant state legislation.

In response, the Finance Ministry is preparing a legal instrument via which it will be able to assume the payments made by the region, meaning that suppliers will be dealt with directly by the Finance Ministry when they are looking for the payment of invoices.

Friday’s regular Cabinet meeting is set to approve further measures to control the region’s spending on the costs of organizing the referendum.

So far, mayors in Catalonia have been threatened with arrest should they cede public spaces for use as polling stations on October 1, while those who are against the referendum are facing the wrath of their pro-independence voters. Meanwhile, Spain’s Constitutional Court is to study an appeal by the central government against the Catalan parliament’s recently passed law, thus automatically putting the legislation on hold. It remains unclear, however, whether Catalan authorities will heed the suspension.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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