Never in recent history has the Generalitat anticipated an increase in funds such as that included in the 2022 budget project, which the Government has sent to Parliament on Tuesday. The arrival of European Next Generation funds, together with the improvement in the collection and the deficit margin, have pushed the budgeted expenditure in the accounts, which grows above 17% and earns 5,618 million new compared to the 2020 project, the last accounts that were approved.
The budget increase is not so great if it is compared with what was materially spent in 2020 and 2021. The reason is that the Generalitat compares the budget forecast figures of the latest accounts, out of date due to the impact of COVID-19, and not those of execution, that is to say, the real cost. However, the Generalitat has planned increases in practically all items. Two out of every three of the new budgeted euros will be shared between health, education and social policy.
The total increase in the level of spending planned for 2022 is unprecedented in some accounts of the Generalitat and to see a similar percentage we must go back to 2005, when resources grew by 13.2%. However, it must be borne in mind that in 2020 and 2021, due to the exceptional situation of COVID, spending catapulted in all areas.
Thus, even though growth is very large in the budget, real spending comparisons could be less forceful. For example, the Health forecast is that health spending will grow by around 4.3% next year, a figure that the Government sees as very positive since it includes an increase in ordinary spending despite the decrease in funds against COVID- 19.
“Catalonia needed budgets, but only now are we in a position to present the budgets that Catalonia needs”, highlighted the Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, who has been convinced that his project will find the necessary support in Parliament. “These budgets are a turning point. In terms of magnitude, these are the most important budgets that have never been approved in the history of our country,” he added, “with the aim of making Catalonia beat again with the same rhythm. that it did between 2014 and 2019, and regain the momentum we had then. ”
The growth that is foreseen in the economic law also consolidates the reversal of the large cuts of the past decade, with an increase of practically 25% compared to 2010, the record year before the last economic crisis. However, it must be taken into account that more than half of the new funds planned are finalists, so the Government’s room for maneuver is smaller. In addition, the Catalan Executive has not budgeted any state COVID fund, despite the fact that the autonomies demand that the State reactivate it. In the last two years there were more than 3,000 euros that, if it arrived, would improve the Generalitat’s margin in a very strong way.
The expected improvement in spending can be seen in all department budgets, which are growing in double-digit figures. The main increases are in the departments of Social Rights (30%), Digital Policies and Territory (29%), Business and Labor (28%) or Culture (28%). Newly created portfolios also have a significant endowment, such as Climate Action, which grows 34% with respect to the competencies it assumes, or Feminisms, which is born with 92 million euros.
The Department headed by Jaume Giró also takes heart from the social approach with which it claims to have distributed the new 5,618 million. From this part, the Government has budgeted 67% directly for Health, Education and Social Rights. In addition, from this same figure, about 200 million are broken down for extraordinary personnel programs related to Covid and with the management of Next Generation funds, and up to 500 million more as an extraordinary budget allocation for possible health emergencies related to the pandemic.
Increase in staff and more collection
In the coming weeks, the different departments will detail how the increase in spending takes place. But the figures presented this Tuesday allow the Generalitat to ensure that there will be 17,663 more places for health personnel to face the pandemic and another 5,468 in education, of which approximately 1,500 will serve to reduce the ratios from 25 to 20 students in P-3 for the 2022-2023 academic year. In security – a category that groups together the Mossos, Rural Agents and Firefighters – there will be 1,122 more places, and in the rest of the public sector 4,559. Extraordinary resources for personnel reach 205 million.
Where does the money come from? The largest injection of income comes from European funds against COVID-19, which amount to 2,142 million euros. Of these, 1,528 million are part of the European recovery mechanism and 614 correspond to REACT funds. Added to other cohesion funds and community financing mechanisms, the income for finalist games of the Generalitat reaches 2,833 million euros. The rest is obtained due to the increase in the deficit margin, which in the last budget was foreseen at 0 although later it was expanded, which together with the improvement in the treasury surpluses frees up resources for the Generalitat of more than 2,000 million .
Revenues from own taxes grew 154 million, thanks to the full deployment of anti-pollution taxes, and the transferred another 434 million, largely due to the increase in collection in Successions derived from the higher mortality of the pandemic. On the other hand, income through the financing system fell 978 million due to the fact that the Government advanced more money to the communities in previous years to face the pandemic. The Government’s economic team plans to maintain the level of income despite the economic uncertainty.
European funds will also allow the regional Executive to increase investment by 1,939 million euros, up to a total of 3,951 euros. The figure is almost double the average investment of the accounts of the last five years. 585 million will be allocated to improvements in hospitals and health equipment (aside from the half thousand dedicated to COVID-19), 529 to housing and 291 to reforms in schools.