The Spanish economy minister, Elena Salgado, has once again refused to pay money owed to Catalunya from a competitiveness fund, as well as to three other autonomous communities, the Balearic Islands, Madrid and Murcia (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). This is according to sources who were present at a meeting yesterday of economy ministers from the different autonomous communities, where the four from Catalunya, Madrid, the Balearic Islands and Murcia requested that the money owed them by paid by the central government. However, Salgado apparently cited "legal reasons" for not authorising the payments as well as the impossibility of doing so because of the affect it would have on the government's spending. The economic representatives from the four regions apparently complained to Salgado that the Spanish government is obliged to pay the money under the Law of Financing for Autonomous Communities. In addition, they reminded her that in the cabinet meeting of July 15th, 2009, a commitment was made to pay this money to those autonomous communities with a right to receive it.
Hundreds of FC Barcelona fans headed to La Rambla last night to celebrate their team's 0-2 victory over rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The culers gathered at the traditional meeting-point for such occasions, the Canaletes fountain at the top of La Rambla, close to Plaça Catalunya, particularly happy with the result following Barça's defeat to Madrid in the Copa del Rey last week. Despite the crowds of people on La Rambla, the Guardia Urbana said that there hadn't been any negative incidents of note. Neither the Guardia Urbana nor the Mossos d'Esquadra had planned any special security measures to tie in with the match that was played at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, but there were some vans from the mobile units of the Mossos and agents of the Guardia Urbana in the streets surrounding the area of La Rambla, which were cut off to traffic until 1am, in case of trouble.
The Catalan Health Department, the Catalan Health Service, trade unions and employers' associations have come to a general agreement regarding the budget cuts to affect the health sector, one consequence of which will be longer waiting-lists for some operations (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The cuts should save some €950 million from the Catalan health budget but patients due to undergo non-urgent operations will see their wait extended from a maximum of six months to an average of eight, although in some cases it could be a much longer wait. It is also possible that the list of interventions subject to this extended wait will change in the future. The aim of the budget restrictions is to shave 12 percent off pharmacy costs (around €233 million) and 7.5 percent off health services (€550 million), while administration services will see a loss of €42 million in its budget and some planned investments of €70 million will not be undertaken.