Thursday, January 27

The adjusted population, finally

There is already a document on the table. A few days late (given that the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, had promised Compromís deputy Joan Baldoví that the “skeleton” of the model would be ready in November), the Government has sent to the autonomous communities a draft for the new regional financing. Where this document was most desired was in the Valencian Community, the worst financed with the current system, expired in 2014. Since then, the PP Government did not dare to open the reform process and limited itself to resorting to the Autonomous Liquidity Fund to alleviate by means of credits that increase its “historical debt” the deficit of resources in the most affected autonomies. It has been difficult for the executive of the coalition chaired by Pedro Sánchez, but in the end he has taken a step forward, and it is fair to recognize it.

Now, the autonomous governments will start to make calculations on the adjusted population, because the demographic criterion has been placed at the center of the new proposal, as claimed by the common regime communities most affected by the expired model, which are those of the Mediterranean arch , from Catalonia to Andalusia. Providing equitable resources for fundamental public services (health, education and social policies) is the objective. And correcting this allocation of funds through adjustments related to area, dispersion, insularity and depopulation, in addition to establishing the fixed costs of the most depopulated areas, will be the subject on which the debate and negotiation will focus.

The change of criterion that implies placing the population as the nucleus of the calculation has been very well received in the Valencia Community, which has been claiming this maneuver since the autonomous parliament assumed a proposal prepared by a committee of experts created for this purpose. It is not surprising that the Minister of Finance and Economic Model of the Generalitat Valenciana, the socialist Vicent Soler, has expressed cautious satisfaction. “It is the most representative variable of spending needs,” he said about the population criterion after receiving the 240-page document sent by the Government. In any case, Soler has added that he will summon the experts in regional financing and the Consell-Corts Valencianes mixed commission to deliberate with the parliamentary groups and study in depth the complex technicalities of the proposal.

Thus, a new stage is opening in which a way must be found to tackle some inequalities that the system has perpetuated by maintaining the status quo or, in other words, the imbalances derived from unequal economic endowment in its successive reforms. originating from the powers assumed by some autonomous communities and others. This will imply contributing a greater volume of money to the autonomous system to the detriment of the General State Administration to prevent any autonomy from going backwards in real terms. But dragging a system marked by a lack of equity so obvious that it has opened a gap of more than 700 euros per inhabitant between the best and the worst financed community would be, not only unfair, but also a growing source of discontent. The most recent expression of this discontent took place on November 20, in demonstrations called in Valencia, Alicante and Castellón by all social agents and all parliamentary forces, except the extreme right, in which thousands of Valencians demanded fair treatment .

It is true that a new financing system requires a double pact: territorial, in the Council for Fiscal and Financial Policy, and parties, in the Congress of Deputies. This double need for an agreement seriously questions the bloc dynamics and the extreme polarization that marks the political scene in our days, with the added difficulty of the fit of a Catalonia that rejects multilateral negotiation. In any case, it implies getting to work in search of concrete solutions to real governance problems. And in the face of any temptation to boycott, the right would do well to remember that it is not only the government of the Botanical Pact that is more than interested in change, but also the executives with PP presidents in Murcia and Andalusia. For what it’s worth, Edmund Burke wrote that “all kinds of government are based on compromises and covenants.”