The purples allege that the Minister of Finance hid the 25.8% increase in defense from them and María Jesús Montero denies it
The marathon negotiation of the General State Budgets (PGE) has led to a new battle in the coalition for the story. And again with military spending as a hot potato. Podemos, which at first seemed in agreement with the agreement, now accuses the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, of having hidden from them during the conversations the total number of the increase in this item, which will be 25.8% higher in 2023, and they insist privately that they did not know this information “until the press conference after the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.” There the details of the pact were unraveled, but without the presence of any minister of the purple party. “Do you think that those who sat down to negotiate did not ask about an issue that was most current?” She argued yesterday, to deny her partners, Montero herself in the halls of Congress.
The entanglement that has been reached within the Government is such that the verbal exchange is measured to the millimeter. “Of course we asked the Minister of Finance about military spending during the negotiations, what she hides is that she did not answer us,” sources close to the Podemos leadership explained to this newspaper. The truth is that military spending was a hot topic when budget negotiations began in early August. This is a sensitive issue, an identity issue for those of Ione Belarra, who already opposed any increase in this item in June after the compromise reached by Pedro Sánchez at the NATO summit in Madrid. Then, the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, came to request an urgent meeting of the monitoring commission of the coalition pact to settle the controversy once and for all. But the wound is still open.
The first meeting between PSOE and United We Can to talk about public accounts was a contact before the summer holidays. In that meeting, the Secretary of State for Social Rights, Nacho Álvarez, who headed the purple delegation, already asked about spending military. According to the story of Podemos, from the Treasury they were transferred during the negotiations that the only item that was going to be increased in the Ministry of Finance was the 6.5% corresponding to the salary increase of the military agreed with the unions. The rest would correspond to a special Defense plan, that is, amounts that would not be included in the draft Budgets nor would they compete, therefore, with social spending. An imaginative tax solution that ended up bringing the positions closer together.
But the bomb that seemed deactivated ended up exploding when the forcefulness of the final figure was revealed. That 25.8% with which until Tuesday afternoon, hours after closing the PGE negotiations, they did not have in Podemos. “We will be vigilant with military spending,” the parliamentary spokesman for the purples, Pablo Echenique, had warned in the morning. “Watchers of what? How is it going to be used in modernizing hybrid technology?” Moncloa sources downplayed importance.
an unexpected announcement
It was at the press conference to present the agreement by the Public Accounts when Montero announced that military spending will reach 8.4% if the contribution of European funds that are not part of the draft is added, and that another 4,900 million Euros would be allocated to credits – some already committed in other legislatures – intended for companies such as Navantia or Airbus to “modernize” the Armed Forces.
In Podemos they closed ranks and avoided entering the rag at first. The objective was that the anger would not end up eclipsing in the media other measures of their program agreed with the PSOE, such as the future family law, which plans to extend the check to all mothers of 100 euros per child or a new paternity leave. It was not until 7:30 p.m. when Echenique himself broke the silence of his own with an incendiary tweet: «We are not going to break the government due to disloyalty by the PSOE, because it would be very irresponsible when we have Feijóo and Abascal sharpening the knives. But I want to say clearly that they have hidden from us the unilateral increase in defense spending and that it is a shame.”
Yesterday, the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, lowered the tone and ruled out a break in the coalition. From Podemos they assure that they will “fight” in each Council of Ministers in which a proposal for military spending is carried out with the items cited by the Minister of Finance, but they assume that Pedro Sánchez holds the reins of Foreign and Defense policy and that it will be “irremediable” that can be stopped.
The issue has already transcended the usual allies of the Government in this legislature and threatens to further entangle the support of formations such as Esquerra, PNV or EH Bildu to the Public Accounts. A difficulty that is added, in addition, to the blow that the Bank of Spain gave to the economic forecasts of the Government, lowering the expected growth in 2023 to 1.4% of GDP.
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