Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu is to meet the Generalitat culture minister Ferran Mascarell this afternoon, in a bid to stop drastic budget cuts from affecting Barcelona (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Hereu has already had a meeting with the Generalitat president Artur Mas to transmit the same message. The mayor is seeking assurance that the Generalitat will comply with agreements already in place jointly with the Barcelona city council regarding different cultural projects, but which are now at threat from the 15 percent budget cut that the Catalan government is proposing for the arts. Hereu will take a financing plan and calendar to his meeting with Mascarell with the objective of guaranteeing the role of the Generalitat in various cultural consortia and projects. Specific focus will be placed on the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Canòdrom and the DHUB. Sources at the Ajuntament have voiced their surprise at the Generalitat's decision to cut support to a national museum, approved by a parliamentary law and to which it is supposed to provide €4.5 million this year.
In 2010, Barcelona airport registered more foreign than local travellers, the first time this has happened in its history (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). In contrast, Catalans using the airport numbered just 2.7 percent of the total who passed through it last year, according to figures released by Aena, the managing company of the airport. The statistics suggest that, while Barcelona is not yet an international hub, it is becoming an increasingly important global stop for air travellers; another figure that supports this idea is that 60 percent of the 30 million people who used the airport had an international start or finish to their journey. However, not all these travellers lived outside Spain and it seems that immigration has helped raise the international profile of Barcelona's airport. Indeed, only 42 percent of foreign users of the airport actually live abroad. Despite this, the number of people who do live outside Spain and Catalunya and pass through El Prat continues to grow, with an increase of 17 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year.
The Bank of Spain yesterday published information regarding the solvency of Spanish savings banks (cajas or caixes) and banks, revealing a list of 12 entities that do not yet have sufficient minimum principal capital levels (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Eight savings banks and four banks, including Catalunya Caixa and Unnim, both Catalan entities created following the merger of smaller savings banks last year, will need more than €15 billion between them to reach the required principal capital, necessary in the event of covering any future economic crises. A new Spanish law means that savings banks and banks here now have to have between eight and 10 percent of principal capital on assets at risk (credits). The large majority of the shortfall, 93 percent, corresponds to the cajas, which have to have eight percent principal capital available; the 10 percent rule applies to banks and cajas that are not listed on the stock exchange. Catalunya Caixa is one of the entities in the worst shape, as it needs over €1 billion to raise its principal capital level from 6.5 percent to the necessary 10 percent.