• Central gov’t says NGOs to receive 10.2 mn in frozen social services funding
• Funds part of Catalan gov’t budget said diverted for independence activities
Spain’s central government announced Wednesday it will immediately free up 10.2 million euros from funds frozen within Catalonia’s regional budget that are earmarked for essential social assistance projects carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Catalonia.
Disbursement of the funds had been frozen since September, when the Spanish Treasury announced it was intervening in the Catalan regional accounts, alleging it had received reports legitimate regional budget funding was being diverted by Catalonia’s government to pay for the 1st October independence referendum, which Spain’s Tribuna Constitucional (Constitutional Court) had ruled a violation of the Spanish Constitution and therefore illegal.
Catalan NGOs have complained that they had had to place on hold essential projects related to social assistance, youth and women’s issues, because the 10.2 million euros in funding earmarked for the projects formed part of the overall 152 million euro budget of the Catalan regional Ministry of Labour, Social and Family Affairs. The accounts of that ministry were specifically targeted by Spain’s central government in its intervention of the Catalan regional budget, allegedly due to indications it had received that the ministry’s budget was being to illegally fund Catalan independence activities, including the 1st October referendum.
According to Spanish news reports, the Barcelona judge investigating the funding of the referendum is currently reviewing police and prosecutors’ reports based on tips from employees within Catalonia’s Labour, Social and Family Affairs ministry that indicate the ministry’s funds were being diverted to the regional government’s Centre for Telecommunications and Information Technologies (CTTI). According to the reports, the diverted funding was being used to pay for software development related to the 1st October referendum and to create a digital infrastructure for an independent Catalan Treasury department that would begin to collect taxes after independence was attained.
Both the Catalan ministry of Labour, Social and Family Affairs and the CTTI offices were targeted in high-profile Civil Guard and National Police raids in Barcelona on 20th-21st September in advance of the independence referendum.
On Wednesday, the Spanish central government’s Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality issued a statement saying it had requested the Spanish Treasury to free up the 10.2 million euros in funding so that Catalan NGOs can continue with their work assisting the most vulnerable sectors of Catalan society.