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The regional government’s budget for Almería totals 386.8 million and will help the province to take off.

The regional government's budget for Almería totals 386,8 million and will help the province to take off
The councillors Ramón Fernández-Pacheco and Carmen Crespo describe the accounts as “more social and with lower taxes” than ever before.

The budget of the Junta de Andalucía for 2023 allocates 386.8 million euros to investments in Almería, which “favours the take-off of the province after decades of neglect by previous socialist governments”. This was pointed out by the Minister of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, and spokesman for the Andalusian Government, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, who, together with the other Almeria Minister, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, explained the accounts that “show that this Government is committed to the province of Almeria and its main sectors”. The budget totals 144.8 million euros more investment in the province than the previous year, when investment amounted to 242 million euros.

Within the framework of accounts designed so that Andalusian families can “face the situation of economic crisis as a result of high inflation”, the budget approved this Friday in the Council of Government is the “most social in history, the one that invests more in Health, Education and Social Policy with less taxes”. In fact, Juanma Moreno’s government is going to allocate more than 25,000 million euros to social policies by 2023. In other words, for every one hundred million euros in the Andalusian budget, 57 are for social policies.

“The budget is going up and taxes are going down”, stressed Fernández-Pacheco, who emphasised the “important commitment” of these accounts to Almeria’s infrastructures. Among these, he highlighted the investment of 7.5 million euros for the construction of the last section of the Almanzora motorway, between La Concepción and the A-7 Mediterranean motorway, the 2.2 million euros for the renovation of the Town Hall in the capital, and the 2.5 million euros for the Mojácar link to the motorway.

More health

In the area of health, the minister and spokesman pointed out that investment “exceeds the historic figure of 7% of Andalusia’s GDP” and in the province of Almeria this investment has a name and surname, as it includes funds for new health centres in El Ejido, the capital of Almeria and Benahadux, as well as an investment of 3.8 million euros for the Mojácar centre and the 15.4 million euros for the Roquetas de Mar High Resolution Hospital, as “a major health project in the province”, 8 million euros for the Mojácar centre and the 15.4 million euros for the Roquetas de Mar High Resolution Hospital, as a “major health project in the province”, in addition to the forthcoming start of work on the new Outpatients’ Building as part of the Torrecárdenas University Hospital.

In terms of Industrial Policy and Energy, the Andalusian Budget for 2023 allocates 29.27 million euros to the Just Transition Fund, planned for the first time to promote industrial development in areas affected by the closure of thermal power plants, including Carboneras, and as a formula for progress in the energy transition.

These accounts also include incentives for energy saving, energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies and the promotion of more sustainable transport with 7.85 million euros, as well as a specific allocation of 5.45 million euros for mining restoration works.

In the area of Justice, Fernández-Pacheco announced, as a milestone, the inclusion of the item that will favour the start of the work on the City of Justice in Huércal-Overa. An action that involves an investment of 1.85 million euros and comes “to settle a historical debt” with the commitment to start “the works in the shortest possible time and that the new judicial headquarters will be a reality as soon as possible.

With regard to the Regional Ministry of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, its head has highlighted the accounts with which the Andalusian Government “steps on the accelerator of the Green Revolution to place Andalusia as a benchmark in environmental protection, sustainable development, circular economy and mitigation of the effects of climate change, as well as the promotion of the blue economy”. Thus, the 2023 budget for environmental policies is the highest in history with a total of 792 million euros, 32.8% more than that allocated, for example, in 2018. He also highlighted how this Budget allocates 222.65 million euros to the prevention and extinction of forest fires (INFOCA), 27% more than in 2022 and 33% more than in 2018.

One million for Las Salinas

An amount that is reflected in specific actions such as that earmarked for the restoration of wetlands in Andalusia with an allocation of 7.5 million euros. In fact, Fernández-Pacheco has emphasised the one million euros that this budget will allocate to improving the ecological functionality of Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata. “We seek to act on everything that falls within the competence of this ministry, such as the nesting conditions for birds,” he said, while stressing that for this specific action, the ministry will work hand in hand with experts with knowledge of these salt flats, such as the members of the SEO BirdLife association. Likewise, and still on this wetland, the Minister insisted that he will work with the company that owns Las Salinas in order to improve, in the long term, the compatibility between the salt activity and the most appropriate conservation of the wetland.

The ports of the province of Almeria also have important investments included in the 2023 Budget of the Junta de Andalucia such as almost 2 million euros for the port of Garrucha or half a million euros for the dredging of the port of Adra. And several items which add up to another half a million euros for the Port-City of the capital.

Investments associated with the circular economy and waste management reach almost 43 million euros for the entire Andalusian Community and, specifically, 3.33 million euros are earmarked for the province of Almeria: the sealing of landfills in Tabernas, Olula del Río, Paterna del Río, Instinción and Bayarque, plus half a million euros more that will go towards the construction of a Clean Point in Adra.

The largest investment in Agriculture and Water in history

The Regional Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, has emphasised the 21.6% increase in the budget of the Andalusian Regional Government for her Department compared to the previous one, which totals 1,655 million euros, being the one that “invests the most in the province of Almeria, specifically 26.3% of the provincial investment, mainly due to the investments in water that we are going to execute to respond to the demands of municipalities, farmers and irrigators in the province”.

In fact, Crespo wanted to emphasise, in particular, the Andalusian Government’s commitment to water policy, to which it is allocating a total of 450 million euros by 2023, an increase of 24.5%. To this must be added the 68.8 million euros earmarked for the modernisation of irrigation systems. In the specific case of the province of Almeria, the Minister highlighted the 47.5 million euros earmarked for investments in water infrastructures, drought decrees, upstream supply and improvement and modernisation of irrigation systems.

This shows, according to Crespo, that the Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Water has, once again, a great commitment in Almeria to “continue correcting the structural deficit of existing water resources with new infrastructures that will generate an additional 30 hm3 of water to the Poniente and Levante Almeriense through tertiaries”. This amount “will be increased in the province with other desalination projects and desalinated water piping to the Almanzora Valley, Bajo Andarax and Poniente, which are included in these budgets through the Drought Decrees”.

In his opinion, “investments in water are going to be the best vaccine to alleviate the effects of this persistent drought we are suffering”. Crespo has therefore announced that “we are making progress in new water alternatives and consolidating water treatment in Almería, where we have all the WWTPs that were declared to be of interest to the Community in operation, highlighting in these budgets those of Níjar, Cuevas del Almanzora, Abla, districts of Huércal-Overa, Mojácar, Fondón, Alhama, Fondón, Mojácar and Alhama. Fondón, Alhama de Almería among others, as well as those that are agreed with the State such as the extensions of El Ejido, Adra and Roquetas”. In addition, the restoration of watercourses continues with the objective of acting on 200 kilometres more, the modernisation of irrigation with 8.5 million in aid to irrigation communities and the restoration of the Adra, Antas, Aguas and Andarax rivers.

Commitment to generational change in the countryside

The 2023 budgets once again “give priority to generational change by increasing aid to influence the inclusion of young people in the countryside, with 3,725 young Andalusians having already joined this sector in Andalusia thanks to this aid”. Almeria will receive 13 million euros, which will be a great boost for the sector, with the novelty being the specific line for the incorporation of women.

The commitment to the agricultural sector, the economic backbone of Almeria, can be seen in the 144 million euros earmarked for agro-industry, the 9 million euros for the Innovation Pole, 10.5 million euros for rural roads, measure 22 to alleviate the effects of the war in Ukraine and production costs, with 7.4 million euros, 3.4 million euros for the agricultural sector, and 3.4 million euros for the agricultural sector; 3.4 million euros to support agro-industry, innovation, marketing and processing; as well as the investment of 9.9 million euros for the second phase of the Second Sales project in the Port of Almeria, the ice factory and the completion of the fish market.

In Culture, Crespo highlighted an investment of 5.4 million euros to continue with the restoration work on the Alcazaba, a large part of which will go to the recovery of the southern wall. Likewise, 1.8 million euros will go towards the first phase of conservation work on the castle of Vélez-Blanco. Meanwhile, in Tourism, the extraordinary programme for sustainable tourism as a destination stands out.

In the area of Equality, the Councillor wanted to reinforce “that we are facing the highest budgets in terms of social spending, which come to reinforce equality policies and, above all, in something as important as gender violence”. Furthermore, this investment effort is reflected in “the significant 48% increase in Dependency in these accounts compared to those of the previous socialist government”.

Employment policies will be “an incentive for young Andalusians and the self-employed in these times of uncertainty”. In this respect, the Councillor highlighted the Flat Rate and support measures for the self-employed, specific employability lines for young people and people with disabilities. She also highlighted the fact that these policies emphasise the Marble School and the SAE Offices in which investments will be made.

In education he wanted to highlight the “significant increase of 17% experienced in the provincialization, as well as the investment effort being made by this Ministry in the province of Almeria with 46 million euros to undertake works as outstanding as the CEIP Consortium of Nijar, the completion of the Conservatory of Dance Quina Jimenez or IES Almerimar, Huércal de Almería, Las Salinas and Las Marinas de Roquetas de Mar. And this is reinforced by the Regional Ministry of Universities which will invest in Calar Alto and will use funds from the increase experienced by the UAL for the recently established Degree in Medicine.

The accounts presented by Fernández-Pacheco and Carmen Crespo are “realistic, close to the territory” and aim for the Andalusian economy to grow by 1.9% next year, “a slightly higher growth rate than the 1.7% forecast for Spain”. Furthermore, the Minister for Sustainability and Spokesman assured that the Andalusian economic model “will continue along the path of lowering taxes” and insisted that “Andalusia already has 280,000 more taxpayers and 1,100 million euros more thanks precisely to this policy”.

Finally, Fernández-Pacheco said he was “proud” of a budget that is, he said, “responsible with the local councils”. In this regard, he pointed out that the allocations for the Municipal Cooperation Plan will grow again in 2023, reaching 2,0044.9 million euros. The allocation for the Law of Participation of Local Entities in the Taxes of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, better known as PATRICA, will also rise again next year and the allocation will amount to 520 million euros (130 million more than in 2018).

Fernández-Pacheco concluded with the European Funds and of the 5,489.4 million included in the accounts for 2023, 15.9% will be allocated to agriculture, 12.8% to economic and industrial revitalisation, another 12.8% to education, 12% to health, 10.5% to transport infrastructure, and another 10.5% to R+D+i and digitalisation. 5.7% will go to sustainable development, 4.4% to employment and entrepreneurship, 4.3% to water and 3.8% to social policies.

Less taxes and more social spending
It is a good budget, according to both Fernández-Pacheco and Crespo, who have encouraged the responsibility of the rest of the groups represented in the chamber to give their unanimous support to accounts that will bring stability to the Autonomous Community. However, both have insisted that Juanma Moreno “is totally open to dialogue and will incorporate all those initiatives that come to add up”. However, they have warned that there are two red lines: “Andalusia will not raise taxes and will not lower social spending”.

 

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