Spanish finance bill clears first hurdle in parliament
On Thursday, Spain’s fragmented parliament approved the minority government’s 2023 finance bill for the first time, moving it to the next stage of debate and increasing the chances that the spending plan will be approved before next year. The draft budget, which includes heavy social spending, comes ahead of national and regional elections next year and is partly aimed at containing the rise of populism amid runaway inflation and general economic angst.
By 186 votes to 159, with three abstentions, the lower house rejected proposals by opposition parties to return the draft budget presented by the left-wing coalition government of socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez three weeks ago. This is one of the best results to date in Parliament for this administration, which took office in early 2020, ending a long period of political instability that has prevented budgets from being approved on time. and called consecutive snap elections.
The Socialists and their junior ally, the far-left Unidas Podemos, must rely on smaller regional parties, such as the pro-independence ERC of Catalonia, to approve the legislation. It is also considering record investments in infrastructure and green energy using EU pandemic recovery funds. The controversial taxes on banks and energy companies, on which the state expects to collect up to 3.5 billion euros, are included.
Some experts, such as the independent public accounts watchdog AIREF, have criticized the budget forecast for revenue and spending because the plan does not specify whether an anti-inflation aid package already in place will be extended until 2023. Spain’s growth is expected to slow to 2.1% from the 4.4% expected this year, the document said, although the Bank of Spain recently cut its growth forecast for 2023 to 1.4%. .
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