Paula de las Heras
Wednesday, 10 May 2023, 18:00
It cannot wait until next Tuesday, the day on which the Spanish government's Cabinet meetings usually take place. Instead prime minister Pedro Sánchez has urgently called senior ministers together for an emergency drought measures meeting tomorrow (Thursday, 11 May) - just hours before the official start of the campaign for the municipal elections on 28 May
The situation is becoming increasingly serious and 2023 now sits in fifth place in the table for the least water stored in Spain’s reservoirs since records have been kept.
Government departments have assured that they have been working for weeks on a package of measures that will probably be laid out as a decree and only now have they been able to finalise it. The second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, is expected to bring some proposals to the Cabinet meeting, such as the prohibition of working outdoors when the state weather agency Aemet has issued red or amber alerts for high temperatures, as she herself announced in the Madrid town of Alcorcón this Wednesday.
The drought, which PM Pedro Sánchez himself recently blamed for the rise in prices in Spain, is already a top-level problem and government officials say that "constant technical meetings" have been held since last year; and that support measures have been offered for livestock and farmers totalling 450 million euros in fiscal, labour, social and finance matters; that 650 million have already been dedicated to extraordinary direct aid, and that 2.15 billion euros have been invested in the modernisation of irrigation systems.
The opposition leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóó, criticised Sánchez today during a conference organised by the newspaper Expansión, saying he is moving now after "five years with ideological prejudices" in which he has been unable, he said, to face a structural problem. “The first thing he should have done - he argued - was to convene the conference of regional presidents to address the water issues, but what he has done instead has been to confront the regional governments”.
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