Government presents 2018 budget at last but still needs MPs' approval

Ministers Cristóbal Montoro and Ana Pastor delivered the proposed budget.
Ministers Cristóbal Montoro and Ana Pastor delivered the proposed budget. / EFE
  • A 2.7% spending increase is proposed on last year but ministers could face a vote of no confidence if they cannot get a majority vote by end of April

Mariano Rajoy's government finally presented its 2018 budget proposal to MPs on Tuesday, after months of delay while it tried to create a programme for public spending that would win it enough support in the Congreso de los Diputados.

With an eye on elections in two years, plans include an increase in pay for public sector workers, improvements in pensions and incentives for lower-rate taxpayers, including an increase on the threshold of zero rate personal taxation to 14,000 euros a year.

Rajoy's conservative PP government doesn't have a majority and is still short of votes to get the plans through. The five votes of the PNV Basque nationalist party are needed to secure the majority, however that party has been refusing to consider giving its support while the regional government of Catalonia is still under the control of central government.

The government went ahead with presenting its plan anyway in the hope of persuading PNV, or other opposition parties, to give it the votes it needs. Finance minister, Cristobal Montoro appealed to the other parties to act responsibly and not delay approval so the government could keep working.

The 2018 budget proposes a spending increase of 2.7% on last year to just over 354 billion euros, which means some increase everywhere, including on infrastructure, health, education, culture and policing.

Since the publication of the budget plan, the different regions of Spain have been poring over the detail to see what they have gained and what they have lost from their wish lists. The Basque Country has done particularly well, with a 32% increase on regional spending, in an attempt by ministers in Madrid to win the support of the PNV party.

A parliamentary vote will be held on the budget at the end of April, by which time the government hope to have enough MPs' votes or face a vote of no confidence.