SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Jan. 31 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Ministry of Finance, Budgets and European Affairs of the Government of the Canary Islands sent this Monday to the Ministry of Finance and Public Function a technical document with the allegations and proposals presented to the report on the calculation of the adjusted population and which basically defend the need to increase the weight of insularity and include poverty in the distribution of funds to attend to fundamental public services.
The adjusted population is the parameter used to measure the spending needs of the autonomous communities, one of the elements of the financing system pending reform, says the Executive, which reminds the central government that the REF tax resources are not part of that system.
The Canary Islands respond, in this way, to the report of the working group on adjusted population sent on December 3 by the Minister, María Jesús Montero, to the Vice President and Minister of the Treasury, Román Rodríguez, and does so with a document that complements some of the the considerations previously sent to the Ministry itself, on May 21 and September 22, 2021.
The document has been prepared by virtue of a collaboration agreement between the Ministry and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the participation, on the part of the Treasury, of Lucrecia Apolinario Hidalgo and María Teresa Gil Doreste, and of the higher academic centre, of Arturo Melian Gonzalez.
The Canarian proposal argues, in relation to fundamental public services (education, health and social services), that poverty translates into a greater need for spending and that, therefore, it is necessary to transfer this circumstance correctly to the population formula adjusted.
The autonomous communities with lower income levels, he assures, have greater pressure on public services.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF POVERTY ON HEALTH
Thus, in the case of health, it is pointed out that “there is clear evidence of the negative impact that greater poverty has on the health status of the population, and, therefore, on greater needs for spending on health services , a fact that must be considered in order to have a fair and balanced formula for measuring spending needs that allows the autonomous communities affected by this fact to offer services to their population under equal conditions”.
This need for precision, adds the document, is even more important in a scenario in which it is proposed to increase the weighting of health spending in the adjusted population formula.
Regarding this same competence block, the Canary Islands also lack an analysis of the impact of tourism on health costs, despite having requested it in July.
The Ministry pronounces itself in similar terms in relation to educational spending, although in this case it also reproaches the central government for not having considered here that the worst levels of income entail greater spending needs and that the territories with the least income are the who have worse academic results and more needs for special support programs.
A RELIABLE INDICATOR
In the case of social services, the Canary Islands consider it essential to add an indicator designed to measure poverty and that serves to calculate the spending needs related to exclusion and vulnerability.
The document rejects the Ministry’s proposal to calculate the number of unemployed without unemployment benefit, considering that the casuistry of exclusion is more diverse and proposes the use of the AROPE rate, “a more accepted multidimensional indicator, which allows its quantification without neglecting the unemployment component”, although also considering severe material deprivation and the risk of poverty (household with income below the poverty line).
“This rate, as it comes from official sources (Eurostat and INE), is guaranteed to be continuous, annual, and perfected, while allowing homogeneity and comparability between autonomous communities and EU countries,” the report states. of the government.
The document also dwells on the analysis of the geographic and demographic variables proposed by the Ministry and ensures, among other things, that it shares the criteria of the close relationship between the variables depopulation, area and dispersion and, in particular, that depopulation must be addressed by regional development instruments, not with regional financing.
Precisely for this reason, the Canarian experts do not understand that, however, depopulation is given specific weight in the proposal sent from Madrid, because, in addition, it does not imply greater expenses in services.
In this sense, they find no justification for adding a variable other than ‘area’, given that this indicator already measures population density and dispersion.
MORE STAFF FOR INSULARITY
In relation to insularity, it is stated that neither its weighting nor the portion that corresponds to the Canary Islands can suffer a decrease with the reform, given that it is clearly underrepresented in the document sent by the central Government, hence it is claimed that the participation of the Canary Islands in the population adjusted for insularity increases, given that the contribution of this variable is significantly lower than the costs of the public services provided by the Autonomous Community.
The insularity, it is underlined in the report sent to the Ministry, is the only instrument to consider the distance of 1,300 kilometers with respect to the Peninsula and the double insularity suffered by the non-capital islands.
Added to this are difficulties such as relief, orography and the reduced surface.
“The evidence of the difficulties that these disadvantages entail has led to the Canary Islands being considered in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU as an outermost region (RUP), with a special application of community law”, the text points out, while emphasizing the factor of its insularity.
In this section, the document criticizes that the Ministry has explicitly mentioned aspects related to the financing of the Canary Islands when speaking of insularity, when no other autonomous community is mentioned in the entire report –focused exclusively on the adjusted population– and recalls that the integration of REF resources has nothing to do with the relative importance that should be given to insularity in the adjusted population, but is justified by the special and serious difficulties of a structural nature, associated with the OR condition.
Given these comments, the Canarian Executive reminds the Ministry that article 166.3 of the Statute of Autonomy states that “the resources of the Economic and Fiscal Regime are additional to those contemplated in the current policy and regulations for the financing of the Autonomous Community of Canary Islands and their Local Entities”.
In addition, the purpose of the REF is to promote the economic and social development of the Canary Islands, “an objective whose validity is still present”, in accordance with article 1 of Law 19/1994, modifying the Economic and Fiscal Regime of the Canary Islands, and the statement of reasons of the Law 20/1991 of modification of the fiscal aspects.