The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas presented his ten government action strategies to “fully use the time left in office” until the elections in September. This “Government offensive” which the President spoke of during this morning’s press conference, has the main objective to prepare the country “in the case a mandate from the Catalan population is received”, the President explained, “to establish our own State”. Subsequently, the strategies are aimed so that “those who must implement Catalonia’s statehood will have a large part of the work done for them when the moment arises”, declared Mas.
During the press conference held in the Palau de la Generalitat, the President broke down his ten point programme aimed at “reinforcing the Government’s structures to support strategic projects” which encompass the key areas which have been the focus of the Government’s action in this legislature: employment, economic recovery, social policies and the welfare state, democratic regeneration, transparency, national transition, and the creation of State structures.
According to the Chief Executive, the strategic projects are listed as follows: 1) Urgent projects to create jobs; 2) Innovation policies at the service of Catalan industries and businesses; 3) A plan for social inclusion and to fight poverty; 4) A plan to support families and measures to strengthen the welfare state; 5) A backing of education and culture; 6) Apply the Law on Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Governance; 7) Push the Law for Non-Discrimination; 8) Executive Plan for the preparation of State structures; 9) Reinforce and consolidate the Government’s foreign action and 10) A plan for strategic infrastructures.
Reduce unemployment and improve the quality of jobs
Among the issues presented in today’s press conference, the President put particular emphasis on the first area concerning the creation of jobs. Mas qualified this concern as “the Government’s great objective”, referring to employment as “the first” priority for the Executive. “For this reason”, the President explained, “we must finish the legislature with our sights fixed on reducing unemployment […] and ensure the number of fixed contracts remains above amount of temporary contracts”. “It is not only about having a job, but about better and more stable employment”, asserted Mas.
Artur Mas also underlined his aim to maintain public policies and the welfare state, together with the fight against poverty as a central issue in his ten point programme. In line with this matter, Artur Mas announced his objective to reduce Catalonia’s poverty levels down to the European average. “The circumstances in our country do not allow us to go further but we can improve [our poverty index] by the two or three points that separate us from European standards”, added the President.
Catalan Tax Office
The Executive’s Plan to prepare State structures was another key area outlined by Artur Mas and a matter which “we must have well planned out and implemented” if the legal framework between Catalonia and Spain should eventually change. Additionally, regarding the new Catalan Tax Office, the Chief Executive made reference to the useful experience drawn from the Provincial Councils to manage tax, train new personnel and strengthen inspection bodies.
Appointment of Commissioners
During the day’s press conference, President Artur Mas also announced the establishment of two new commissioners. One commissioner will be responsible for the implementation of the recently approved “Law on Transparency and Access to Information”, and the other will be responsible for the “preparation of State structures” announced Mas.
Núria Bassols, is a magistrate on leave from Catalonia’s High Court of Justice and is responsible for the current Transparency Programme, will be the Commissioner for Transparency. The Commissioner responsible for Catalonia’s National Transition will be Carles Viver i Pi-Sunyer who is the current director for the Institute for Autonomic Studies and president of the Advisory Council on the National Transition.
The President highlighted that the two individuals will be appointed next week are already part of the Generalitat’s Administration and therefore “will not be an additional burden” to the taxpayer. “Given the importance of these two issues”, added President Mas, “this measure allows us to have a political and governmental impetus in both programmes”.
The Commissioner for transparency will work under the Ministry of Governance and Institutional Relations. The Commissioner’s main responsibility will be to ensure the Government of Catalonia fulfils the Law on Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Governance that was recently approved by the Parliament of Catalonia. The Chief Executive emphasized the “enormous complexity” of the Law and made reference to the “tremendous challenge” it will incur on the Administration. However, the President maintained that the matter in hand was for the Generalitat to satisfy the Law “as quickly as possible”. The new Commissioner’s objectives will be to implement strategies to guarantee every Ministry fulfils the new legislation, push new measures for the administration’s internal organization and coordinate the application of new directives and corporate criteria.
Nevertheless, the President stressed that the successes attained by the Government in terms of transparency in only one year have led to non-governmental organisations like Transparency International to award the current Government of Catalonia full marks (100/100) in its Index of Autonomous Communities. “Therefore, it is about maintaining the high level of exigency and improve in whatever we can”, added President Mas.
Furthermore, the Commissioner for the National Transition, will depend on the Ministry of the Presidency and will be in charge of developing an executive plan to identify the available State structures as well as those which will be necessary in the future; to identify the preparatory actions and measures to implement the constitution of State structures; to plan and coordinate the actions which should be carried out by each Ministry, organ and entity of the Generalitat, and lastly, to develop an executive plan together with the Advisory Council on the National Transition.
Finally, the President reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to push these strategic projects for the country and announced that before the Catalan elections take place in September, “the Executive Council and myself will hold another press conference to assess the level of completion of these ten great projects”.