"Greater austerity" and "shared social responsibility" steer the 2011 budget to "ensure the country's progress"
Mr López believes the tax debate is "not merely an economic debate, but also a social and political debate" and calls on the councils of the traditional territories to "begin to reflect on" the matter.
The Lehendakari, Patxi López, has opened up tax issues for discussion when he called for reflection on this matter, which he defines as a "national debate". "What services do we expect to receive and how are we going to pay for them?" asked Mr López, who called on the Deputy Generals of the councils of the traditional territories to debate a possible tax increase to allow institutions to maintain current public and social services. The Lehendakari affirmed that he was not in favour of a society "which simply leaves citizens to fend for themselves", and defended a "tax system which guarantees everyone's right to a decent standard of living". In a speech at the I Basque Leadership Forum held this morning in Bilbao, the Lehendakari asked businessmen and women and workers to accept "shared social responsibility" to ensure that no one is worse off as a result of the crisis, and advocated "consensual internal flexibility" as the "best labour reform in current times". The Lehendakari added that the main objectives for the forthcoming budget were "greater austerity, greater effort and joint action focused on the advancement of the knowledge society, research and innovation within our economic structures".
"Greater austerity, greater effort and joint action focused on the advancement of the knowledge society, research and innovation within our economic structures". With these objectives in mind, the Basque Government is drawing up the 2011 budget, in which it seeks to address the new challenges faced by Basque society as a result of the crisis. These are the economic and social challenges that the Lehendakari, Patxi López, believes should be tackled from a position of "shared social responsibility" and via a national model that does not "simply leave citizens to fend for themselves". As part of this objective, the Lehendakari is committed to designing "a tax system that guarantees a decent standard of living for all citizens". The debate on the tax model is "a national debate" and not merely a matter of economics. "What services do we want to receive and how are we going to pay for them?" is the question that the Lehendakari asked those in attendance at the I Basque Leadership Forum. He asked the Deputy Generals of the traditional territories to "begin to reflect on" this question and to "take the time to talk it over and come to an agreement which will provide sufficient funding to maintain the country at the levels we wish".
The library of the University of Deusto provided the venue for the I Basque Leadership Forum, which commenced with a speech by the Lehendakari, Patxi López, entitled "The Basque Country within The New Modernity". Institutional, political, economic and social representatives from the Basque Country attended the forum.
The Lehendakari analysed the current social and economic situation in the Basque Country and its future in forthcoming years. After acknowledging that "as a result of the enormous efforts of all elements within the Basque Country, we are recovering from the crisis," Mr López affirmed that "we must remain pragmatic" and "move forward, arm in arm." "We must understand that joint responsibility, commitment and combined effort represent the means of ensuring that our country moves forward," he added. Mr López called on businesses and workers to make the effort to "prepare for modernity" and explained that "consensual internal flexibility represents the best labour reform in current times."
Centralised Social Security Fund and the Statute
In response to questions from the audience, the Lehendakari described the PNV's renewed approval of the Statute as "good news" when he announced the negotiation with the central government on "greater self-determination" in view of the upcoming approval of the National Budget.
Mr López believes that an agreement between the current central Government and the PNV is "compatible", as long as it "benefits the Basque Country and not a single group or ideology". The Lehendakari drew attention to the PNV's veto against the transfer of active employment policies, which "robbed" the unemployed people of the Basque Country of 12 months of active policies. He also expressed his delight that the PNV was "now" saying it would "negotiate greater self-determination", which represents a return to "the Statute that it abandoned some years ago".
Mr López explained that the Basque Government "has made a great deal of progress in its negotiations" with the Central Government and is "exploring formulae" to avoid "breaking up" the centralised social security fund. "“We are putting forward formulae that allow us to explore possibilities that go beyond what has been put forward so far, whilst avoiding a break from the centralised social security fund. If this is achieved, it will be good news for Basque Country, because the veto against the transfer last year was bad news," he added. The Lehendakari drew attention to the fact that in view of current demographic trends, "the centralised social security fund offers an added guarantee that Basque pensioners will continue to receive pensions in the future".