The Government keeps its breath held until the last moment, but is already getting used to the idea that it is facing its first parliamentary defeat with the decree for the expenditure of the savings of the municipalities. The Ministry of Finance has made a final concession in a negotiation in extremis to unlink up to 3,000 of the 5,000 million from the transfer of the savings of the municipalities to the Government, an indispensable condition for the Executive so far.
The fiscal authority warns that the loan proposal to the State may “discourage” municipalities from obtaining a surplus
In this way, a fund similar to the one that was delivered to the Autonomous Communities would be created, but this time for local entities, as the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and that of Valencia, Joan Ribó, had claimed. From En Comú Podem, which is part of United We Can, this condition had been reiterated in the last hours as a condition for not breaking the voting discipline and positioning itself in Congress against a measure of the Government in which they participate.
Despite this latest offer, in the Executive there is little expectation that the royal decree will go ahead in Congress, where until now almost all the groups had rejected the proposal that the consistories with treasury remnants could spend 5,000 million euros in two years in exchange for giving the State all your savings, which would later be recovered in a period of 15 years. The debate on that decree will begin this Thursday at 9 in the morning and at that time the die will already be cast, because 50% of the Hemicycle will have voted telematically before that time. If there is a last minute deal, it has to be before.
And in that negotiation the Treasury and the parliamentary groups have been in the last days. In the socialist ranks, the defeat of a proposal that went ahead in the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) was already taken for granted thanks to the casting vote of its president, the socialist Abel Caballero, of the favorable vote of the PSOE councilors – who supported it, in many cases, reluctantly – and the abstention of the representative of United We Can, Pedro del Cura, who changed from ‘no’ to abstention with the intention of allowing negotiation that has dragged on until the last moment. Despite the fact that no one endorsed this decree, Pedro Sánchez presented it at a ceremony in Moncloa on the eve of its approval by the Council of Ministers.
A month later the battle continues and the Socialists have had to roll up their sleeves to save the decree that would mean an injection of 5,000 million for the consistories in the next two years in exchange for lending their savings to the State through the Treasury with a commitment ten-year return from 2022.
Groups across the parliamentary arch, including government partners, see it as “blackmail”, “seizure” or “coercion”. “We’re on that. We have not closed yet, but we are trying ”, they express in the socialist leadership. “The Treasury seems to be moving, but it is not closed yet,” they pointed out in the middle of the afternoon from Unidas Podemos. The negotiation between the two members of the coalition Executive has gone in parallel to that of the Treasury with the other parliamentary groups, to try at least to save the unity of action of the Government parties.
The deputies of En Comú Podem have been especially critical of the measure, to the point that the mayor of Barcelona herself, Ada Colau, has been directly involved in the negotiation. Colau has traveled to Madrid this Wednesday, where in addition to offering an interview on TVE, she has held several meetings precisely on the negotiations of this royal decree. Among others, she has met with the second vice president and leader of United We Can, Pablo Iglesias, and with the head of the ranks of the. common in Madrid, Jaume Asens, to seek a joint negotiating position.
The Treasury movement has been to accept that of those 5,000 million that previously the municipalities with savings would cede to the State, not only they can benefit but also those who do not have a surplus. Among this second group, the part that corresponds to them would be distributed according to a population criterion.
Sources of the negotiation assure that 60% of the money could be “lost fund”. The other 40% would go to entities that did agree to make their savings available to the Government, as sources of the negotiation have confirmed to eldiario.es. “The Treasury is moving”, they recognize from En Comú Podem.
All in all, the votes for the royal decree to be approved are far from being achieved. This would be the first parliamentary defeat for the coalition government and one of the few that have been seen in Congress in the validation of such regulations, which come into force as soon as they are approved by the Council of Ministers, although they have to be ratified by Parliament. . The two previous cases occurred with the stowage decree during the last term of Mariano Rajoy and with that of the rental, promoted in the first of Sánchez.
“We have conveyed to all groups the need to validate this decree-law in those aspects that are essential for the functioning of municipalities,” said María Jesús Montero on Tuesday, who referred to issues such as the 400 million fund to face the fall of transportation revenue, the suspension of the spending rule or the update of regional financing based on the 1.6% growth of GDP in January before the COVID-19 crisis.
“I have proposed to leave for the processing as a bill offering the deputies of PSOE and United We Can to address in a timely manner the issue relating to the fund of 5,000 million that is made available to municipalities and the management of the remnants in the form of loans to the State, ”Montero added.
In this way, the Government would be able to save the decree to which changes agreed upon by the parliamentary groups would be introduced. “Our proposal has been that it be validated, that it is processed as a bill and the Government undertakes not to do anything with these aspects until Congress adopts a formula that is more consensual with the rest of the formations that do not share it”, settled the Minister of Finance.
And it is these amendments that are being addressed at the last minute with all groups, including government partners. “It is more a pact of the PSOE with the PSOE itself than with the rest of the political formations,” Jaume Asens reproached the socialists.
Despite the fact that the change accepted by the Treasury brings positions within the Government closer together, at the time of writing this information, the Executive still does not have sufficient support assured. All in all, United We can rely on a domino effect if it is officially confirmed that part of the fund will be completely lost. “3,000 million is a lot of money, it is a substantial change,” they point out from the common.
Those of Pablo Casado have already announced that they will stage their rejection with the presence of important conservative councilors on the platform of Congress. They claim “an unconditional fund of 5,000 million euros” that is not linked to the transfer of the remnants in line with what the Treasury has offered, but for the entire fund. They also ask that “the modification of the Budgetary Stability Law be enabled to enable councils to spend the 15,000 million euros they have saved after much effort,” according to Genoa in a statement. It so happens that this rule, which is the one that drags this conflict between city councils and the State, was approved by Cristóbal Montoro. The former minister has defended this Wednesday on TVE that the regulations can be suspended “in exceptional situations.” Its repeal is contained in the coalition’s programmatic agreement, but has not yet been undertaken.
The PNV maintains contacts with the Government, but for the moment remains in the no, according to sources of the formation, who criticize how this decree has been managed by the Treasury. Basque nationalists recall that the Basque Country has an economic and financial uniqueness in its relationship with the State, for which they argue that any agreement of this nature should have been channeled through the mixed concert commission. EH Bildu has also been very critical of the Treasury’s approach and maintains the rejection “at the expense of making any more changes in the next few hours.”
ERC is not moving either because it demands a “global rethinking” of the decree. “We cannot function with Montoro’s budgets, well, we cannot function with Montoro’s norms either,” they point out from the group led by Gabriel Rufián, from which they maintain that there are mechanisms for municipalities to spend that money. JxCAT and other minority forces, such as Más País-Equo and Compromís, also maintain their rejection, although the talks remain open.