Catalan autonomy bid gets the green light

21st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

21 March 2006, MADRID — A modified version of the Catalan autonomy bid was approved by a parliamentary commission.

21 March 2006

MADRID — A modified version of the Catalan autonomy bid was approved by a parliamentary commission.

The constitutional commission backed the version of the Catalan bid for greater power which was agreed between Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the right-of-centre Catalan CiU party.

The opposition Popular Party and the Catalan left-wing Esquerra Republicana (ERC) voted against the so-called 'statute'.

The full lower house of parliament is expected to rubber stamp the document on 30 March.

Four sticking points remain in the deal -  over management of the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona, who will run Barcelona airport, and whether residents of Catalonia can participate in European elections separately from the rest of Spain.

But most points have been agreed already.

The document will refer to the region as a nation in the preamble, but not in the document itself, thus fudging the issue of nationality which has proved so controversial.

This issue provoked boycotts of Catalan goods and threats of a coup d'etat from the former head of the army.

Catalonia will be able to levy 50 percent of income tax and VAT. At present, the region receives 33 and 35 percent respectively. 

These percentages can be changed every five years.

But Madrid keeps the right to levy company taxes.

The document does not make it clear if the region can form its own Tax Office, but it says in two years the issue must be resolved.

At present the State tax office is to keep on managing the levying of taxes.

There are to be three levels of tax management – the Catalan-only taxes, a consortium which is to oversee those shared between State and region, and the State-only taxes.

But, backers of the new plan, claim this does not mean that there are to be three different offices for paying taxes.

In the next few years, Catalonia is to receive State investments equal to its contribution to the GNP. At present it gives 18.5 percent to the GNP and receives 11 percent back in terms of State cash.

This means the State is to pay between 2-3 billion for infrastructure and other works, like paying for motorways at the entrance and exit point of the region.

The Generalitat or regional government is to be responsible for administrating work permits for foreigners. It will have to work with the State to administer entrance and residence permits.

It is also to administer a referendum on the subject, which is due to be held in the region later in the year.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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