The Catalan Anti-Fraud Office (Oficina Antifrau de Catalunya or OAC) wants improved action to prevent and combat corruption cases (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). In light of various cases of corruption in different areas of political and social life in Catalunya, the OAC wants an agreement reached that will establish a series of measures whose objective is to prevent a repeat of incidences such as that of the Palau de la Música Catalana or the Caso Pretoria, both of which have seen millions of euros (including public money) taken fraudulently by figures in positions of authority. The OAC, which depends on the Catalan parliament, has drawn up a document with 34 measures that lay out the commitments that the main Catalan institutions would have to implement in the event that corruption is suspected. This document was delivered to the president of the parliament, Ernest Benach, at the start of last December who in turn passed it to the Generalitat president, José Montilla in January; Montilla is still to give his response regarding it content. A survey carried out at the start of this year by the Centre d’Estudis d’Opinió found that political corruption is the second most important concern for Catalans, with only unemployment considered more serious; in a year, those voicing dissatisfaction with politicians has grown from seven percent to 29%.
The news that the Spanish Constitutional Court will meet this week, and possibly make a decision on the Catalan statute (which it has been debating for three years), has had a motivating effect on the organisers of the popular votes on Catalan independence set for April 25th (read article in Catalan here, Avui). This will be the third round of such referenda, which are not legally binding, and see votes take place in almost 200 towns with more than 1.5 million residents eligible to say whether they are for or against Catalan independence. In addition, organisers are considering putting together a popular legislative initiative (iniciativa legislativa popular or ILP) to bring before the Catalan parliament in the hope of an official and legally binding referendum being called on Catalan independence. They have been motivated in part by a recent judicial ruling that said that Catalunya has the legal framework to celebrate an official referendum as part of the law on consultations, approved in the Parliament on March 10th; such a referendum would be reliant on the collection of written support from three percent of the electoral census, some 220,900 signatures. Although the goal of a legally-binding referendum might not actually succeed, the coordinators of the popular vote are confident that it would force all the Catalan political parties to take a position on the subject of independence in advance of the Generalitat elections due to be held in the autumn. “It’s now the turn of the Catalan institutions to give a response,” said one of the main orgamisers, Uriel Bertran, yesterday in Girona.
Spain will have to contribute €2,490 million to the packet of bilateral loans agreed by member countries of the Euro Zone to help Greece deal with its serious economic crisis (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Although the final decision regarding the financial aid rests with the Greeks themselves, who will have to request the loans if it feels it needs them, preparations are already underway amongst the 16 Euro countries to offer help if that request comes. The European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, explained at a press conference yesterday that the contribution of each state to the bail-out loan, with a total value of €30,000 million, is calculated according to its capital subscription with the European Central Bank (ECB)—as agreed at the meeting of heads of state and government from the Euro Zone that took place two weeks ago. According to the latest figures from the ECB, the Bank of Spain has 8.3 percent of the capital held at the ECB. As well as the money from the Euro Zone, around €15,000 million will be available to Greece from the International Monetary Fund.
Also in the news: Plaudits continue following Barça’s defeat of Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Spanish prime minister makes another trip to Washington (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Earthquake of 4.7 on Richter scale strikes in south of Spain (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)