The expert appointed by Madrid for the commission to reform the regional financing model, Jorge Onrubia, believes that the current political scenario of “insubordination and disloyalty” of the Generalitat de Catalunya can delay any agreement on the new system, “under unjustified excuses.”
In an interview with Efe, the also professor of Public Finance of the Complutense University considers it “unacceptable” to give a “preferential treatment” to Catalonia with a bilateral negotiation and if it happens, he says, it would be an “error of enormous magnitude”.
However, Onrubia trusts that a government “responsible, sensible and committed” to the values of the Constitution does not condition the new system “because of this anomalous situation”.
the report prepared by the 20 experts appointed by
the Government and the autonomous communities, except Catalonia that declined to participate, is reviewed by the Permanent Technical Committee for the Assessment of the Treasury, which should be able to outline a political agreement with the technicians and even the advice of the experts.
For Onrubia, the report has paved an important part of the political negotiation so, if the discussion is addressed in a “constructive way”, there could be enough time to reach an agreement and that the bill was drafted in October , which would allow to address the parliamentary process in the remainder of the year.
Onrubia says to be aware of “the difficult political geometry” of the current Parliament but also ensures that there are “incentives” in the autonomous communities to reach that agreement.
“Social demands on fundamental public services, which voters identify with the work of regional governments, would force them to promote an agreement that would provide them with greater resources,” he adds.
This expert in financing also refers to the “fragmentation” of regional parliaments and the “strategic complexity” that they face, “which does not facilitate the definition of positions within each community.”
However, despite this complex political scenario, Onrubia is optimistic and identifies incentives for a reasonable agreement to be reached, although it warns that it should not occur “at any price”.
In this sense, he points out that the resulting model should respect the lines of the report of the commission of experts “and not repeat the bad experience of 2009” which, he recalls, was approved by all the communities, which did not take a year “to criticize him unambiguously. “
For Onrubia and given that “money does not fall from the trees,” maintaining the status quo clause (which prevents some communities from receiving fewer resources in absolute terms than the previous year) “is only explained by political patronage.”
“It is absurd to maintain that clause, since it means asking the State to cover the financing
improvements of the communities harmed by the previous system without, thereby, preventing those who benefited from losing the privilege of additional funds,” he explains.
And on these funds and specifically on the Autonomic Liquidity Fund (FLA), Onrubia believes that “as soon as possible we must abandon these mechanisms of financial facilities, which have become a substitution of ordinary financing, with high disincentives to efficiency in spending “.
In his opinion, this withdrawal of extraordinary financing must be done in an appropriate manner, applying measures of individualized financial support “to prevent any financial strangulation in any community.”
Onrubia clarifies that this does not imply any restructuring of the debt that results in the total or partial cancellation of financial liabilities or interest.
And warns that the take away always end up causing “serious problems of moral hazard, which induce fiscal indiscipline,” in addition to causing “comparative grievances” for communities that have made greater efforts to cleanup to meet the objectives of consolidation.