The decision of the party Convergència i Unió (CiU) to abstain from a parliamentary debate on a possible law for the unilateral declaration of Catalan independence has brought to a halt the proposed regulation (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The initiative to bring the law before the Catalan parliament was taken by the party Solidaritat Catalana per la Independencia (SI), but it was anticipated some time ago that it would not succeed, partly because CiU (the biggest party in the parliament) had already announced that it wouldn't take part in the vote. As a result, the opposition of the Partido Popular, Ciutadans and the Catalan Socialist Party were sufficient to defeat the proposal. Iniciativa per a Catalunya Verds also abstained from the vote and only Esquerra Republicana Catalana, SI and independent parliamentary member Joan Laporta supported it. CiU justified its abstention saying that its priority is in achieving a new financial agreement with Spain for Catalunya. In fact, president Artur Mas showed his attitude towards the issue by staying out of the chamber for the debate, and only arriving for the actual vote.
The Spanish government has decided to take action against banks and savings banks that are particularly aggressive in the offers it makes to the public for its deposit accounts (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The government has decided that any financial entity found to be making unreasonably aggressive interest rates will need to contribute more money to the Deposit Guarantee Fund (Fondo de Garantía de Depósitos). The aim of the government is to end the war of offers that are being made outside the market, with interest rates on offer that are significantly above the actual price of money, a strategy that some banks are using as a way of winning the resources necessary to refinance their debts. Tension on the wholesale money markets means that obtaining finances that way is proving very expensive for some and impossible for others. As such, there has been a war of deposits in which all size of Spanish financial companies have taken part, from Santander down to small savings banks. It is currently possible to find offers on savings accounts of four or 4.5 percent TAE, while the Euribor hardly reaches 2.1 percent.
Flower-sellers in Catalunya are undertaking a special promotional campaign in an attempt to encourage the purchase of roses for this year's Sant Jordi celebration on April 23rd, when 40 percent of florists annual rose sales are traditionally made, which falls on the Saturday of the Easter holiday weekend (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Since the start of the year, both florists and book-sellers have been trying to come up with ways to offset the effects of the calendar. As such, the Association (gremi) of Florists of Catalunya has come up with the slogan "don't leave it til the last day, you have all week to buy your rose", in the hope of encouraging people to start buying the flowers from Monday 18th April, as well as giving customers the opportunity to order their roses in advance to be picked up on April 23rd or before if the client is planning to be away for Easter. Barcelona flower-sellers are being allowed to set up stalls on both the Thursday and Friday before the actual day of Sant Jordi. Florists are concerned not to see a repeat of the year 2000, when Sant Jordi fell on a Sunday and sales fell by 33 percent. Jordi Rodon, vice-president of the Mercat del Flor i la Planta Ornamental de Villassar de Mar said that, in some ways, the global crisis would help florists to avoid a greater disaster because many Catalans are unlikely to travel abroad for Easter this year. As such, rose sales "won't fall by as much as we feared" if they stay in Catalunya and keep up the Sant Jordi tradition of lovers exchanging roses and books.