Monday, September 24, 2012

Czech Economist Defends Catalonia's Independence

Czech Economist Defends Catalonia's Independence

Lidové noviny is one of the most prestigious Czech newspapers. A few weeks ago they published an article by Pavel Kohout who argues in favor of Catalan sovereignty in a demolishing way. Kohout is a young and prestigious economist who acts as an adviser for the Czech government, and a highly respected opinion maker among the Czech elite. This is the first time that a text in Czech is published defending Catalonia’s independence.

The text begins with a reference to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, where he talks about his own experiences during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), when a democratic Catalonia was militarily crushed, and Spanish fascists would execute countless people at firing squads.

Mr. Kohout explains the situation of the Catalan economy, and backs his assertions with real figures. “Does this mean that Catalans are not able to manage their own economy? Did the Catalans live beyond their means and are they asking now for help? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite is true. Catalonia is the richest region in Spain. Also, it is the one with the highest tax imbalance. And that is precisely the problem.” He adds, “The figures from 2009 show that Catalonia gave Madrid 14,493,000 € (which represents an 8.4% of Catalonia's GDP) in exchange for nothing. Incidentally, this amount is just a bit more than the total loans Catalonia is going to need for 2012.” Therefore, Spain's richest region must get in debt just to subsidize Madrid. Could it be more clear?

Kohout also compares the situation in Catalonia with that of the Czech Republic when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and he notices that the situation is very similar.

The article ends with a clear message: “The Catalan budget is smaller than the amount Catalonia sends to Madrid every year. Therefore, the crisis comes from the the budget’s federalism. Should Catalonia not be obliged to contribute to the common budget in Spain, it would end up with a balanced budget or a surplus.”

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