The Catalan Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, during a debate in the Parliament of Catalonia.Quique García (EFE)
The approval of the Generalitat’s accounts, thanks to a pact between the ERC Executive and the Junts with En Comú Podem, not only gives stability to a Government that begins again to show its contradictions. It has also served as a great showcase for the Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, who is ultimately responsible for its negotiation and the success of the budget agreement. A particular leadership that generates some suspicion in Junts, the party that proposed it as counselor, and that incidentally blurs the weight of Vice President Jordi Puigneró, the leading voice of the party in the autonomous government.
The former general director of La Caixa, 57, was the surprise advisor to the Executive, at the proposal of Junts, although he was also related to the president Pere Aragonès. Giró is not a member of the party led by Carles Puigdemont, but from his surroundings they assure that he has the will to join in an imminent manner, a step that shows his interest in playing a more prominent role in the political front line. It was Jordi Sànchez himself, general secretary of Junts and former president of the independence entity ANC, who was in charge of negotiating his arrival to the Government, boosted by his extensive experience also in other companies of the Ibex-35 (Repsol and Gas Natural) and his subsequent embrace to the sovereignist theses.
The design of the Executive formed by ERC and Junts favors a certain gray area in the control of those of Puigdemont over the Republicans. In the last three legislatures, the Economy portfolio also held the rank of vice-presidency. Puigneró, who with Quim Torra was the counselor for Digital Policies, was chosen number two and also assumed the powers in Territory, thus forming a super council. However, the political power of the vice president was separated from control of the cash and budget execution.
The success with the accounts stands out due to the low profile of Puigneró
Although the relationship between Giró and the vice president is correct, there were some disagreements from the first moment. Puigneró wanted to have under his command the dissemination secretariat, a relevant portfolio, in charge of distributing the investment in the media. The position remained within the Economy organization chart, but Giró agreed with Puigneró the name of its owner, the journalist Jofre Llombart; all with the placet of Sànchez.
Giró had the spotlight on it from the outset for the proposal to endorse the former senior officials responsible for the Generalitat’s foreign action, prosecuted by the Court of Accounts, through the Catalan Institute of Finance. The operation did not go ahead due to the refusal of the supervisory body to receive the money but, for the moment, the justice has not ruled against the administrative action, which sources from the Government assure that it will end up becoming law (now it is a decree law ).
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It is Giró’s responsibility for budgets that has given him more relevance at a time when Puigneró’s maneuvers to set his own profile have not gone well for him. The Vice President He managed to score a bit with the expansion of El Prat —which dislodged ERC—, but then the negotiation ended up derailing and now the Puigneró team is waiting for the September fiasco to cool down to try to re-establish contacts. In that controversy, the head of the Economy played a discreet role.
In what has been able to shine the head of Economy is in the approval of the accounts. The scene of a former high-ranking official of La Caixa negotiating with the CUP could seem surreal, but from both sides, and also from ERC, they recognize that Giró’s commitment was total. Although it was the commons who finally allowed the budgets to be approved, it is true that the law approved on December 23 includes many of the assignments made to the anti-capitalists.
The clamp between Aragonès and Giró was essential to allow the budget to come to fruition. Even with some members of the Executive Boards against the accounts going ahead and with inflammatory speeches such as that of the deputy Joan Canadell criticizing the agreement, the counselor managed to maintain the bridges with the commons. In this operation it was essential that both members of the Government spoke “the same language”, they acknowledge from the Palau de la Generalitat. Of course, they clarify that it is Puigneró with whom they continue to have all the political dialogue.
Giró’s role was not limited to negotiating budgets, in which he had to deal with departments governed by Junts, which, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, refused to accept the requests of the commons. The counselor It also squeezed its content even much more than Aragonès himself did in his day: an extensive tour of the veguerías (a supra-municipal division of Catalonia contained in the Statute) to show the virtues of his proposal and also by different groupings of Junts in various Catalan towns . A tour that has allowed him to walk his managerial image through many scenarios.
Giró crowned the budget process with a speech in the Parliament, written by himself, and in which some important member of the Junts sees an intervention “by the president.” His Christmas greeting video did not go unnoticed either, along with the large fir tree that decorates the noble staircase of the Parlament. That own profile generates suspicions about the agenda and future claims of the counselor, who this year will have the litmus test of maintaining relations with the central government despite distancing himself from the reform of regional financing.