The Government is trying to quell the revolt of mayors that caused last week the Treasury proposal for the municipalities to give their remnants to the State in exchange for aid against the pandemic, which it was approved in a very tight vote by the Governing Board of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP).
The Government will assume the payment of the interests to the banks of the municipalities that lend their remainders to the Treasury
The initiative generated an unprecedented division in the body that brings together all the Spanish consistories. It only had the support of the 12 representatives of the PSOE in the Governing Board. PP, Ciudadanos and Junts per Catalunya (with a total of 12 other representatives) voted against, and Unidas Podemos abstained. The tie was broken with his casting vote by the president of the FEMP himself, the mayor of Vigo, Abel Caballero, of the PSOE.
Since the vote of last day 3, a whole campaign has been launched by mayors of different political signs – from practically all parties, except the PSOE – against the formula chosen by the Government to try to circumvent the Law of Budgetary Stability approved in 2012 with the votes of PP, the old CiU and UPyD, which prevents municipalities, in general, from spending their surplus.
The Treasury sought a solution to, without changing the law, provide local entities with 5,000 million euros between 2020 and 2021. The municipalities that take advantage of the initiative will thus lend the State all their surplus and treasury remnants, some 14,000 million in total. In return, the Government will return a part directly this year and next, which amounts to those 5,000 million. In addition, in a period of ten years that will begin to count in 2022, the full loan made by the municipalities will be returned, with its corresponding interest.
This Tuesday the Government took another step to try to curb the climate of widespread rejection of the measure agreed with the FEMP. First thing in the morning, Hacienda sent a statement to the media in which he explained that in the conditions of the loans published by the Official State Gazette (BOE) it is contemplated that the Executive will assume the payment of the interests that the local entities pay to the financial entities for having deposited their remnants. In this way, the municipalities that provide these savings to the Ministry of Finance will benefit from an effective interest rate of 0%, being able to save up to 70 million euros per year.
The municipal front against the Executive
This last gesture of the Executive has not generated at the moment any change of position in the municipalities that are against the measure and that have mobilized against the Government in recent days, through different initiatives. On Friday, mayors from up to nine different political formations came together to approve a joint declaration rejecting the decree law. The council members of Bilbao (PNV), Cádiz (Adelante Cádiz), Granada (Ciudadanos), Lleida (ERC), Madrid (PP), Murcia (PP), Pontevedra (BNG), Reus (JxCAT) and Santa Cruz de Tenerife ( CC), Zaragoza (PP) and Valencia (Compromís).
The rejection has united the three rights of PP, Vox and Ciudadanos with antagonistic formations that facilitated the investiture of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, such as ERC, PNV, Bildu, Compromís, Nueva Canarias or BNG. They are also against Junts, PRC, Canary Coalition, CUP or Navarra Suma.
The correlation of forces is important, since the measure agreed with the FEMP was approved by the Council of Ministers last week in the form of a royal decree-law and, therefore, must be validated by the Congress of Deputies in September. once the new political course starts and the ordinary period of plenary sessions is recovered. For this vote, the PSOE needs, therefore, the support of other political groups, but the parties that have already announced their vote against add up to around 190 seats, well above the absolute majority of 176 in the Congress of Deputies.
The support of the coalition partners of the PSOE in the Government is not even confirmed because Unidos Podemos did not like the initiative either, although the FEMP Governing Board decided, at the last minute, to go from ‘no’ to abstention, generating a tie situation that had to fix the casting vote of Abel Caballero.
Colau denounces the “antimunicipalism” and the “centralism” of the Treasury
In fact, the last to stand out from the measure it was precisely the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, the main councilor of one of the legs of the confederal group of United We Can in Congress, the Catalan ‘commons’. As Colau pointed out this Tuesday in the Catalunya Ràdio microphones, the council that he directs plans to invest its savings in the city itself, which has valued between 165 and 230 million euros, depending on whether it has the treasury of municipal companies.
“We will make a deficit,” advanced the Barcelona councilor, who explained that, according to her calculations, the decrease in income due to the coronavirus can reach 300 million euros in the city. “We need more financing but we are facing the misunderstanding of this centralist state,” denounced Colau, after ensuring that the Minister of Finance, Maria Jesús Montero “is wrong” in maintaining an “anti-municipal attitude and closed to dialogue.”
On Monday, the leadership of the Popular Party chaired by Pablo Casado gave a clear instruction to all municipalities in which it governs so that they do not give their remnants to the State in exchange for aid against the pandemic. As the popular insist, their consistories will not succumb to Sánchez’s “blackmail”, so that “the savings of their neighbors will not enter the coffers of the General State Administration to finance the socialist roadmap of the coalition Executive.”
This Tuesday, the deputy secretary of Communication of the PP, Pablo Montesinos, also announced that his party has initiated contacts with other formations “in defense of municipalism and the saving of the neighbors”, and called on the mayors of the PSOE to join the PP and ” to say in public what they already say in private against the confiscation of the 15,000 million to the municipalities “.
Abel Caballero (FEMP): “What prevents spending the remnants is a law of the PP”
The president of the FEMP, Abel Caballero, sees a “political operation” in the rejection of the PP to the agreement with the Treasury. “What prevents that the remnants cannot be spent immediately is a law of the PP”, remembered the Vigo regidor in a interview on Cadena Ser, alluding to the Stability Law of 2012 promoted by the Government of Rajoy, and that only PP, CiU and UPyD supported.
“The State puts on the table of the city councils 5,000 million lost funds to spend in 15 months and the city councils will choose if they want to use their remnants or not, it is not something coercive,” he settled.