Catalan crisis cost €1bn: finance chief
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos (pictured) says the Catalan independence movement has cost Spain around €1 billion since October.
He told Spanish radio that the slump in the Catalan economy since the unauthorised independence referendum on October 1 had caused the damage.
Catalonia’s crisis, which accounts for around 20 per cent of Spain’s GDP, is hampering the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy as a whole.
Warnings about economic damage were a major part of its campaign against Catalan separatist parties in the December 21 regional election.
De Guindos pointed to “enormous uncertainty, concern and a loss of confidence generated by the previous [Catalan] government” as the cause.
The minister said growth in the relatively affluent region had slowed from 0.9 per cent to 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“Catalonia used to have growth above that of Spain, it was one of the drivers of the Spanish economy. However, in the fourth quarter, it’s become a burden,” de Guindos said.
Around 3,100 companies have moved their head offices out of Catalonia since October 1.
The December 21 election only highlighted the region’s split into pro-independence and unionist camps and set the stage for further trouble.
Separatist parties won 70 of 135 seats in the parliament but the pro-union Ciudadanos (Citizens)
won the popular vote.
The minister called on the separatists to abandon the “unilateral way” and concentrate on the “basic necessities” of Catalan society.
Self-exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont called on the Madrid government to enter negotiations on restoring his “legitimate” pro-independence regional administration.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid a judicial investigation into suspicions of rebellion by his government. An arrest warrant awaits him in Spain.
“As president, I demand the Spanish government and those who support it … restore all they have expropriated from the Catalans without their say-so,” Puigdemont said from Brussels.
He will struggle to form a new government as Catalan parliamentary rules require a presidential candidate be present for the formation of an administration, while many of Puigdemont’s separatist allies are in prison and he is overseas.
He said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy should recognise the separatist parties’ slim majority in the regional parliament.
Rajoy said that he planned to convene the newly elected parliament on January 17.
“The ballot boxes have spoken, democracy has spoken, everyone has been able to express themselves. What is Rajoy waiting for in order to accept the results?” Puigdemont posted on social media.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos. Picture credit: Wikimedia