Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met on Wednesday morning at Moncloa Palace with the President of the Regional Government of Valencia, Ximo Puig, with whom he discussed the various issues on the table between the two authorities, including financing, infrastructures, transport and healthcare.
On the issue of financing, Pedro Sánchez said that Ximo Puig gave him new data that show conditions have been met to proceed with refinancing the debt held by the Regional Government of Valencia and invited him to do so before the deadline expires on 31 October. Pedro Sánchez also told him that the Government of Spain, as other countries are doing, will pass on the request made by the President of the Regional Government of Valencia to the European Commission for the spending on R&D made by public authorities in partnership with the private sector, to not be counted in deficit terms.
On infrastructures and on behalf of the General State Administration Services, he reaffirmed a commitment to maintaining investment in the region so that a per capita average similar to that of other autonomous regions in Spain can be reached as far as budgetary availability will allow. Specifically, work is actively under way on all sections of the Mediterranean Corridor in line with the various stages at which each one now is. These investments affect the Tarragona-Castellón, Castellón-Valencia and Valencia-Encina Hub sections.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Works will increase the number of Castellón-Vinarós and Alicante-Elda-Villena services (three-fold and two-fold, respectively), allocating more than 11 million euros to that end within a genuinely complicated budgetary situation. As is the case for other major Spanish cities, an agreement was reached for the 2019 Budget to include funding for metropolitan transport in Valencia, which is the third-largest city in Spain with a metropolitan population of more than 1.5 million. This funding will take the form of a subsidy and the precise amount will need to be specified with the Ministry of the Treasury during the process of drawing up the General State Budget.
The Prime Minister echoed the concerns expressed by the President of the Regional Government of Valencia about his region’s healthcare services looking after a high number of visitors given the significant tourism sector in Valencia. In this regard, a commitment was made to amend and develop Spanish Royal Decree-Law 16/2012 that set up the Healthcare Guarantee Fund in order to extend the services covered and streamline the inter-regional balancing mechanisms. Pedro Sánchez expressed the Spanish Government’s willingness to participate in the project to create a Study Centre on Aging in Alicante through the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.
The two officialsagreed that the Central Government of Spain will continue providing maximum support for consolidation of the municipality of Quart de Poblet in Valencia as a digital headquarters for the United Nations. To that end, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Fernando Valenzuela, has scheduled a meeting with leaders from the Regional Government of Valencia in the coming days. Minister Josep Borrell will also hold a meeting shortly with the director-general from the United Nations responsible for this matter.
Pedro Sánchez also confirmed to Regional President Puig that the Government of Spain has accepted the request from the Regional Government of Valencia regarding equal wages for forest fire-fighters in the Region of Valencia when compared with other similar employees at the State company TRAGSA. The Minister for the Treasury will immediately authorise payment of this transitional wage bonus and the Regional Government of Valencia undertakes to finish incorporating this fire-fighting force into the Valencian Security and Emergency Response Agency in due time and form in order to avoid the need for another provisional instrument.
Finally, on the issue of culture, the Government of Spain has committed to studying the possibility of increasing its participation in such iconic culture centres as the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (Spanish acronym: IVAM) under equal terms as other bodies from other autonomous regions.