The Catalan President threatens early elections if the Spanish Government intervened in Catalonia

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Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, sent a warning message on Monday to Madrid in an interview with the Catalan Public Television Broadcaster (TV3). If the Spanish Government forces an intervention of the Catalan Government, Mas will call for early elections. u201CI do not want them, and I will not look for themu201D, he said, but u201Cif in any moment Madrid decides to intervene Cataloniau2019s self-governmentu201D, the Catalan President would call citizens to the polling stations. It is expected that many Catalan citizens would consider an intervention of the Catalan Government by the Spanish Executive as an attack on Catalonia. u201CThe situation is very delicateu201D, the Catalan President warned. Mas, who is also the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), complained about the Spanish Government not paying for the money it owes Catalonia: If the Spanish Government does not pay for its debts towards the Catalan Executive, u201Cthe mistrust level will be very highu201D. Nonetheless, he expected the Spanish Government to rectify part of its budget proposal for 2012 and pay what it owes. Furthermore, Mas expressed his wish to bilaterally meet with Spainu2019s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to discuss a new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain by which Catalan citizens would cut their contribution to the rest of Spain by 50% and thus would have more money to pay for basic services and infrastructure in Catalonia. Currently, official studies state that Catalonia gives 8.5% of its GDP to pay for services and infrastructure in the rest of Spain every year. This represents a fiscal transfer of some u20AC17 billion per year, when the Catalan Governmentu2019s deficit in 2011 was around u20AC7 billion. However, Mas was pessimistic about convincing Rajoy. However, the Catalan President said that a new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain will be u201Cinevitableu201D. Furthermore, the Catalan President said that greater budget cuts will be needed this year. In some areas u201Cwe have reached our limitu201D and u201Cwe cannot furtheru201D reduce the budget. However, money is missing and u201Cwe will have to undertake further budget cutsu201D he affirmed.

The President of the Catalan Executive qualified the Spanish Government as u201Cnot very seriousu201D for saying it does not owe anything to Catalonia except guaranteeing its liquidity. u201CThis is falseu201D, Mas stated. He reminded official reports recognising the previous debt of u20AC759 million that the Spanish Government owes Catalonia. Furthermore, the current legislation specifies that u20AC219 million corresponding to 2009 should be paid in 2012. Both amount to almost u20AC1 billion. In addition, there is another amount pending to be transferred: more than u20AC1.4 billion from the Competitiveness Fund, whose payment is being delayed because of the crisis. u201CPretending that things are not like this shows the [Spanish] government is not very seriousu201D, he criticised.

Mas admited that Saturdayu2019s meeting between the Catalan and Spanish Finance Ministers (Andreu Mas-Colell and Cristóbal Montoro respectively) u201Cdid not go wellu201D. In that meeting, Mas-Colell asked for the money the Spanish Government owes Catalonia and he also asked for greater investment to be made in Catalonia in 2012, in relation to territorial investment made throughout Spain and planned in the Spanish Governmentu2019s budget proposal. In fact, not only does the Spanish Government not plan on paying for the debts it has with the Catalan Government, but it would not meet the current legislation that states it has to invest the equivalent of Cataloniau2019s share in Spainu2019s GDP. In other words, according to the law, 19% of all the territorial investment made by the Spanish Government has to be made in Catalonia, in order to compensate for an historical and recognised lack of investment. However, the Spanish Governmentu2019s current budget proposal only foresees investing 11% of the total amount. The Catalan President stated that, if the Spanish Government does not rectify its plans, they u201Cwill have to vote u2018nou2019 to the budget, and this will represent an inflexion pointu201D.