In his speech, the Vice President of the Government highlighted the package of measures designed and implemented by the Catalan Government to deal with the economic and social effects of the second wave of the pandemic. A strategy based on social unemployment and the application of restrictive mobility measures, accompanied by active measures of social and economic protection, “measures we will implement as many times as necessary to protect the lives of the citizens of Catalonia”, he remarked.
Aragonès recalled some of these measures, such as the nearly €50 million for the culture, leisure education and sports, or the additional €50 million for the restaurant sector in beauty centres, which mobilised “immediately” €300 million added to the amount of the first wave of the pandemic. "The Government will leave no stone unturned to obtain the resources needed to overcome the complicated moment we are all suffering", he said.
The Vice-President emphasized that the strategy for stabilizing Covid-19 in Catalonia had a threefold objective: "to have a transmission rate lower than 1, to have less than 1,000 daily transmissions and to have a maximum of 300 beds at the ICU used by COVID-19 patients”. During his speech at the Parliament, Aragonès assessed that, for the first time after the start of the second wave of the pandemic, “we have managed to lower the infection rate below 1, but we cannot relax”. "We have this goal in mind and we will work tirelessly to achieve it", insisted Aragonès.
The Vice-President also recalled that the strategy to fight the pandemic not only involves the activation of health measures, "but it needs to be complemented with economic and social measures". In this sense, he has requested once again to the President of the Spanish Government to “do his part” and articulate a rescue plan “with direct measures for the sectors most affected by the crisis, as the Catalan Government has done”. Among the actions demanded of the state executive, he highlighted the moratorium on taxes and social security contributions, "and to resolve once and urgently the delays in the payment of subsidies for temporarily suspended workers". The vice-president also asked the state to "stop taking totally inappropriate measures at this time, such as increasing the contributions of freelancers".
Finally, Aragonès pointed out that, in addition to responding to the problems arising from the crisis with economic resources, “we need to work on the emotional dimension of the pandemic, underestimated by day-to-day emergencies, but crucial to re-emerge the collective trust that makes us strong ”. For this reason, he has defended the need to implement a "plan of care and emotional support", which can "address the fears and anxieties generated by the pandemic among citizens".
Fighting the pandemic: a government priority
The Minister of the Presidency, Meritxell Budó, recalled during her speech that, since the beginning of the health crisis, the Executive Council “has acted responsibly, rigorously and in anticipation, to save lives and to protect citizens in the face of the pandemic”, making "decisions quickly, usefully and transformative”.
“It is our priority, together with all the ministries, to follow the order of President Torra to concentrate the policies and decisions. We spend 24 hours a day to it because we know what is at stake for the country and the people”, said Meritxell Budó. She emphasized that the last measures adopted by the Government "are absolutely necessary to change the situation and avoid a major effect in the health sector, as well as in education, economics and society". Some measures, she said, are already having a positive effect on epidemiological data, and she expects an even greater effect in the coming days.
The minister explained that the package of measures adopted last week "respond to a strategy to face the difficult months ahead"; a strategy, she recalled, promoted by President Torra since the beginning of the health crisis, which not only works on "short-term measures to face the most urgent needs", but also at the medium and long term”, with “multidisciplinary teams of experts” and “rigorously analysing the current situation in order to design and implement measures and action plans that respond to current and future needs”.
Meritxell Budó regretted, however, that in Catalonia "our hands are tied, and we cannot provide the economic response we would like because we do not have all the powers or the necessary funding to carry it out". He denounced that "in order to rescue workers, freelancers and companies, the state needs to change completely the course of its economic policy". In addition, she reminded that since last March President Torra has asked unsuccessfully a series of measures to support SMEs, freelancers and companies, such as more credit and liquidity; the suspension or moratorium on payments to taxes, rents and supplies; access to all types of international credits and the possibility of indebtedness for the administrations, if needed.
Budó also reminded that the Spanish government asked for “a decentralized state of alarm in which Catalonia was the competent authority to take the necessary measures to confront the pandemic”, but “the reality is not decentralized at all”. On the other hand, the minister lamented that “the state of alarm is not decreed together with other measures to mitigate the effects of the needed restrictive measures, either to the general population or to specific sectors.”. For all this, Budó has said that "perhaps it is high time all parliamentary forces demand commitments from the Spanish government", given the "serious and complex situation we live as a country”.
The Minister has framed the appearance before the Parliament of the Vice-President and hers as "responsible" action of the Government, she defended the importance of "transparency", and she detailed “the multiple occasions” in which the Government has appeared before the Parliament to explain the situation of the country and the measures adopted.