During yesterday’s weekly press conference, President Mas assessed the second semester of 2014 stating that “the Government of Catalonia has fulfilled many of its commitments” in terms of the governability agreement signed by the CiU (Convergence and Union) and ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) parties. The Chief Executive explained that 67% of the agreements had been employed despite having only completed half of the term in office. Regarding the remaining 33%, 22% are in the process of being achieved and 11% correspond to issues that “as was discussed prior to the agreement, would be dealt with in the final stages of the legislature”.
One of the main issues in the governability agreement was to carry out the consultation of November 9th. In this sense, the President affirmed that “in terms of the Right to Decide and the National Transition, 2014 has been a great year, a tremendous year”. “Against all odds and with just about everything against us, the ballot boxes were brought to the people and a strategic alliance was formed between the Government and the citizenry, making the 9-N a major success” declared the President.
“It was not a definitive consultation, […] unlike other countries where it would be much easier, countries that belong to democratically stronger States than the Spanish one, it is very difficult to carry out an agreed upon referendum [in Spain]” asserted the Chief Executive.
The Catalan president stated the final resolution “did not depend on me, but on everyone” underlining, at the same time, that the Government of Catalonia would maintain “permanent dialogue with unceasing efforts to reach agreement”.
Regarding the dialogue with State institutions, the president of the Catalan Government noted that “there are no conversations” concerning the Catalan political process, adding that “the Spanish Government discusses this issue through judicial courts and the Public Prosecutor’s office”. “I am very saddened that this is the case because in a mature and civilized democratic country it would not be dealt with in this way” revealed Mas.
Second Semester Assessment of 2014
During the press conference, President Mas highlighted that the Government is “highly capable of reaching all sorts of agreements with entities, institutions and other individuals” as it “clearly begins to overcome the economic crisis”. “With the Government actions and the actions of many other people we are beginning to overcome one of the most difficult periods in the Catalonia’s modern history” stated the President.
Artur Mas sustained that the second semester of the year proved that “aside from the Catalan political process, many issues have been addressed which makes the path we are currently going through a little better than how it was before”. “We are in a period of changes in which we there complicated stages” explained the President, “and these” he continued, “have not entirely been conquered yet because there are still many people going through difficult times” but “we are starting to recover from it”.
In this regard, the Chief Executive summarised the last year as period in which “jobs have been created for the first time since the beginning of the crisis; we have internationalised ourselves more than ever; we have improved performance in education; we have improved social programmes, and we have positioned ourselves at the top of the State in terms of transparency”, furthermore, “we have been able bring the ballot boxes to the Catalan people so that, for the first time, people could collectively vote in favour Catalonia’s freedom”.
During his intervention, the President divided this last semester’s economic activity in four key areas: Economic recovery and the creation of jobs; Social policies; Transparency and Administrative Reform, and the Right to Decide and National Transition.
In terms of the first key area, Economic recovery, Mas underlined that “this was the first year since the beginning of the crisis in which there has been economic growth in each quarter of 2014”. Mas also highlighted that “in inter-annual terms, unemployment rate has dropped in the last eighteen consecutive months” while underlining the “3% increase in the number of people enrolled on Social Security”. The president stressed that this recovery was more noticeable in Catalonia than in the rest of the Spanish State where, for instance, unemployment rate dropped by 5.4% whereas in Catalonia it dropped by 7.8%. “These figures are sign of a more dynamic economy” asserted the President.
In terms of social policies, the President made it clear that the Government held it as a priority as “71.2% of the Budget is allocated to social expenditure”, “despite” Mas continued, “having fewer resources than previous years”. Mas indicated that “no other government in Catalonia has ever allocated so many funds to social policies” using the fact that 981 million euros has been spent on 172 different social actions or that a solidarity fund has been set up to help families pay for energy bills as an example of the Government’s commitment to social programmes.
Finally, regarding the Administration’s good practices, the President highlighted how in 2014, the Catalan Government received the maximum score in Spain in terms of Transparency International’s transparency index. This effort to improve the Generalitat’s management has, according to the President, also led to the Administration’s modernization.