Town councils and autonomous governments need to contribute more to helping Spain get out of the crisis, according to the European Commission (article in Catalan, Avui). According to the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquín Almunia, the local governments spend a significant proportion of the national budget and they need to assist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in ‘paying the bill’ of the current economic situation. Almunia warned that a greater effort had to be made by local governments and councils in helping Spain reduce the country’s current budget deficit by 1.75 percent each year up to 2013, as part of a deal reached with the EU. Almunia also said that raising taxes at a local, as well as a national level, wouldn’t threaten economic recovery and rather that it was excessive debt and the national deficit that threatened growth in Spain.
The mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, has said that the council will commission less reports from third parties next year (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). While Hereu admitted that some of the reports that have been produced on behalf of the Ajuntament in the past may have been of dubious quality or use, he said that efforts had already been made to reduce the number of reports commissioned and that the majority of those produced were useful to the running of the council. In 2008, external reports and technical studies written for the council cost €13.4 million for around 1,000 documents; the council said that only 103 actual reports were produced at a cost of €1.4 million, and that the rest of the money was spent on “technical work”.
Celestino Corbacho, the Spanish Employment Minister, said yesterday that the possibility of reducing workers’ hours to avoid them losing their jobs is a measure that the government will be considering in the coming weeks (article in Castilian, El Periodico). The leader of the trade union CCOO, Ignacio Fernández Toxo, recently advocated such an approach with the support of public money, as an alternative to making employees redundant. The plan also fits in with the interest that the Vicepresident of Economy, Elena Salgado, has shown in adopting the German model of employment. However, Cándido Méndez, the leader of the UGT, the other main Spanish trade union, is not as enthused by the proposal, which could cause difficulties in any future negotiations. Méndez said that Spain shouldn’t let itself be dragged along by the experience of other countries, referring to the difference in business models that exist in Spain and Germany. He also said that a policy for reducing working hours already exists in Spain (expediente de regulación de empleo or ERE) and that it hasn’t proved a successful tool in the current crisis.
Also in the news: High number of school-children affected by swine flu (Avui); Road accidents in Barcelona result in injury to 21 motorcyclists every day (El Periodico); Barça-Madrid clash to be broadcast live in Yelmo, Cinesa and Kinépolis cinemas around Spain (El Periodico)