889 days, Montoro bids farewell to his budget: “Nothing is eternal”


Posted: Friday December 4 2020 09:01

Far from the Congress of Deputies, from the applause and amendments, from the seats and the committees, when this Thursday the Chamber approved the articles and each of the sections of the bill on the general state budget for the year 2021, he there was a good part of your lordships wondering how we got here.

Not because of the support obtained – a large majority, given the times of political fragmentation: 188 yes out of a total of 350 seats that make up the Plenary. Nor because of the calendar, taken to the extreme – the final processing and official publication will arrive a few hours before the end of the grape year, just at the limit. No. But because the country had not spared the obstacle of accounts for nearly three routes.

Because the budgets still in force belonged to a previous government, that of Mariano Rajoy, not even that of the PSOE alone which joined Moncloa after the motion of censure. They were scheduled for 2018 and here they are. But now, finally, we have already moved from Montoro … to Montero.

Montoro: “The trajectory of my PGE has shown its quality”

While echoes of applause from the Socialist Caucus and United Podemos still echoed in the atmosphere, former Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro received laSexta. He is the man of records: although on several occasions the accounts planned for a certain course have been extended, until this year 2020 there had never been the situation that they did until ‘twice. Almost three … and that was avoided on the horn.

“The time had come for new budgets”

When asked if what he feels is a relief that his budgets have finally come to an end, Cristóbal Montoro (Cambil, Jaén, 1950), head of the Treasury in two governments – between 2000 and 2004 with Aznar; between 2011 and 2018 with Rajoy-, he smiles. “There is nothing eternal. The 18 budgets have had a very long, exceptionally long trajectory, and this shows the quality of the same, ”he winks.

Montoro, who defends tooth and nail the legacy of an executive who left the front line through the back door, believes that “the time has come” for new budgets. Because yours won’t work anymore? Something like this: “They allowed Spain to continue to grow, creating jobs, without economic imbalances, like the balance of payments”.

“The anomalous fact is that for over two years, from a different government, these budgets have continued to be operational. You couldn’t ask for more, ”he said.

From one abnormal budget to another

But the exceptionality that Spain has known with its accounts for several years does not seem to dissolve in the short or medium term. The pandemic, which has hit society and the economy hard, has made nothing normal. Perhaps this is the trait shared by the current minister, María Jesús Montero, and her predecessor: trying to plan and understand economic activities for a year in which it is not clear what it will bring.

“The effort should have been made for all groups to support the EL”

In the case of Montoro, it was a question of anticipating, given the political fragmentation, the one-year extension with several electoral nominations, as was the case in 2019. In the case of Montero, facing a unprecedented public health crisis … and a new snack executive in our country’s history.

For this reason, Montoro does not hesitate to classify the new accounts, which have passed their first parliamentary examination but for which the green light is still lacking in the Senate, as “crisis budgets”. “A country which, like the rest of the world, but us more strongly, we are experiencing this crisis. For this reason, it would have been desirable for the budgets to benefit from the support of the major political parties ”.

A failed “stability” message

It refers, of course, to the PP and, to a lesser extent, to Citizens and Vox. “Although they counted on a large number of votes, which, without a doubt, is a precious fact in itself, but it would have been desirable that around these budgets, because they are budgets of economic and social crisis resulting from of the public health crisis, there would also have been the support or at least the understanding of the major political parties of the opposition today, ”he slips.

“I understand that the situation is so exceptional that it would have been necessary to make an effort on the part of everyone, starting with the government itself, to seek this support, these reasons to present itself,” said the former minister. “The main message that should have been obtained from these EMPs is to get out of the crisis caused by the pandemic as quickly as possible. A message of political stability in Spain ”.

Montoro does not miss political life

Montoro does not look longingly at the political arena. He feeds, he says, on journalistic information and with that he has “more than enough”. Retired at his home in Madrid, without traveling for months to his native Andalusia as a precaution against the waves of the pandemic, the former finance minister smiles when he comments that, since the transfer of portfolios, he has never received Minister’s appeal that it happened.

Perhaps that is why he does not like to look in the mirror at the account of the validity of his stories, but to defend his legacy and his actions. Either on the recipe for getting out of the crisis – on this occasion, he would opt for investments and loans – or to talk about the tax harmonization which has been rumbling so much in political circles lately for the negotiation of the EMP and that, he insists, he does not support.

Against tax harmonization “since 2002”

Especially because, as he reminds us in this interview with LaSexta, it was he who in 2002 promoted the financing system which transfers property taxation to communities with regulatory capacity. “If I promoted this, how am I going to be okay with the opposite,” he stresses.

“The underlying logic of this whole debate is why we want a state of autonomies if there is no difference in the taxes that apply. It is as if we were saying that the IBI should be the same per square meter in the Spanish capitals as in the cities of the province of Teruel… This responds to different circumstances, ”he explains.

“Why do we want a state of autonomies if there is no difference in the taxes that apply?”

The truth is that since this Thursday, another chapter is closed for Montoro. From the time he was dealing with his last accounts, he fondly remembers the “negotiating spirit” he faced. “I met all the groups except Bildu. With everyone, even those who are now in government. We would sit, meet and talk, even knowing that we were unlikely to come to an agreement.

A gestation of perverse accounts

She will miss it now when she looks at the ring. “When we see how the approval is interpreted, what are the general political consequences that are drawn from it: with that, we make sure that we already have the government for the entire legislature,” he laments.

“A crisis like this has never been experienced. Like the 2008 economic crisis, yes”

“But that’s not the problem at a time like this. The government is formed and legitimized by nomination votes and that is not going to change. With the budgets, it was not that, ”he says. “The fragmentation in Spain is excessive and it leads to a radicalization of positions. Now it is an obstacle to restore all the confidence that the Spanish economy needs in a situation as different as the one we are going through, which is unprecedented. Because the previous economic crises had been well experienced ”.

In their eyes, the problem with these new budgets stems from a “minority government facing a very deep economic but also social crisis resulting from the pandemic. The situation is completely different ”from what he faced during his tenure.

“EMPs are an instrument, but there are others, very important, like those implemented by the European institutions, which will promote an economic recovery”, he indicates, but with a date in the horizon which is still far away. COVID vaccines through. “We will have to wait for the successive years until 2022 and if not partly 2023 to be partly back to the starting point where we were at the beginning of 2020”.

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