The budget of the Junta de Andalucía for 2024 allocates 402.69 million euros to investments in Almería, which “favours the promotion of families and social policies”. This has been pointed out by the Minister of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, and spokesman of the Andalusian Government, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, who, together with the other minister of Almeria, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, has described the accounts that “show that this Government is committed to the province of Almeria and its main sectors”. They were accompanied by the Government Delegate, Aránzazu Martín, who introduced the budgets, which she described as “historic for Almería”.
In 2024, Almería will have the highest budget in its history: figures amounting to 402.99 million euros. Almería will receive 10.42% of the 2024 budget and will have an investment of €543 per inhabitant, an increase of 3.2% compared to last year.
According to the Minister of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, “these budgets are the main tool that the Government of Juanma Moreno has to respond to the needs of the people of Almeria, of all Andalusians. Budgets that mark the strategy of the Executive for the coming year and set the priorities. Priorities that in Andalusia are, of course, to reinforce social policies, to support the productive fabric and to be, as the Minister of Agriculture, Carmen Crespo, will explain, the Water Budget”.
Fernández-Pacheco explained that “the social spending planned for 2024 is the highest in the history of Andalusia, 62 euros out of every hundred of this budget is allocated to social policies: to health, education, dependency, employment. To help families to make ends meet and to do so with quality of life”.
The Minister stated that “with these accounts, no one can give us lessons, as spending on health has increased by €4,406 million compared to 2018, 44.8% more. Spending on Education has increased by €2,692m since 2018, 34.2% more. Spending on social policies has increased by €7,616m compared to the last socialist budget, 35.6% more, so we are not going to receive lessons from anyone”.
Fernández-Pacheco recalled that since Juanma Moreno has been governing in Andalusia, “Almeria is at the centre of the Junta’s investments with important projects in Water, Education, Social Policies; but also in Infrastructures and Health”.
“In Health – the Minister explained – the Andalusian Budgets for 2014 imply an expenditure per inhabitant of 1,169 euros, 45.08% more than that allocated to health by the last Socialist government in the Andalusian Regional Government. In addition, spending on health services in 2024 will fall from 4.03% to 3.92% of this year’s figure. The lowest percentage in the last fifteen years”.
In terms of health infrastructures, the budgets include the completion of the Roquetas de Mar Hospital, with €34m, or the €13.5m to finish the Torrecárdenas Outpatients building, as well as the almost €12.5m for the reform of the ICU and the hospital A&E in Torrecárdenas and the investment of €6.2m in the Nephrology area of the La Inmaculada Hospital in Huércal-Overa.
More than €400,000 will be allocated to the refurbishment of the emergency accesses to the Poniente Hospital in El Ejido, to which must be added a further €400,000,000 for the work on the hospital’s medium-voltage ring main. In addition to promoting the health centres of Piedras Redondas in the capital, Benahadux, Huércal-Overa, Ejido Nordeste, Albox and Mojácar.
Development, Territorial Planning and Housing,
The 2024 budget includes an allocation of more than 36 million euros to build the interchange which will consolidate the project to bury the railway tracks in the capital as a preliminary step to the arrival of the AVE high-speed train to the city. More than €16.3m will also be allocated to Urban Regeneration and Accessibility Areas (ARUA) to improve neighbourhoods and urban areas. Work will be carried out with local councils in the province to improve areas in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. In the capital Pescadería-Avenida del Mar, and in El Ejido it will be in the Ejido Centro area.
In addition, an amount of half a million euros is registered in the budget of this Regional Ministry to finance the Port-City project on the basis of the agreement signed by the President of the Regional Government, Juanma Moreno, in April this year together with Almeria City Council and the Port Authority.
Industry, Energy and Mines and Justice
The budget will allow the launch of the Just Transition Fund with an investment of 20M€ in Almeria. 20 million in Almeria, to boost industrial development in areas affected by the closure of coal-fired power stations. 3.3 million will also be invested in the restoration of disused mining operations and just over 1.3 million euros for programmes to promote value chain plans within the framework of the CRECE Industria plan. The Macael Technical Office will have an initial investment of 20,000 euros.
In Justice we will have 1,846,354M€ for the judicial headquarters in Huércal-Overa, and 285,214€ for the drafting of the project for the new judicial headquarters in Roquetas de Mar.
Environmental policy is one of the cornerstones of the Andalusian Government’s management. Since 2018, the funds allocated to the environment and the fight against climate change have increased by 56%. “In Almeria these budgets are going to favour the conservation of environmental enclaves, improve waste management and promote the Circular and Blue Economy”, the Minister has detailed.
Ramón Fernández-Pacheco explained that “we are going to carry out the recovery and adaptation of the Boticario Forest Park with an investment of €3.42 million. But we are also going to work on the restoration of habitats of community interest in the coastal area of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, which will have an allocation of 600,000 euros and the restoration of the Cabo de Gata Salt Flats, with an amount of 1.6 million euros”.
There will be a budget item for the improvement of the Albuferas de Adra, with an investment project of one million euros. The functional improvement and interpretative equipment of the Visitor Centre of Laujar de Andarax will have more than half a million euros, and the repair of the jetties of the Port of Roquetas de Mar will be carried out with an investment of 300,000 euros.
The Minister for Sustainability also highlighted the investment of more than twelve million euros in the sealing of landfills in Cuevas del Almanzora, Berja, Albox, Líjar and Castro de Filabres and the investment of 200,000 euros for the drafting of the project for the new solid urban waste treatment plant in the city of Almería.
Fernández-Pacheco concluded his speech by asserting that “the Andalusian accounts are serious, realistic and responsible despite the lack of loyalty from the government of Pedro Sánchez, who has not had the good sense to communicate the fiscal rules that will be applied in 2024 or to explain how much the payments on account amount to, that is, the funds that we are going to have”.
The Regional Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, has highlighted the value of the Andalusian Regional Government’s Budget (PJA) for 2024, which amounts to 3,415 million euros in the case of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, “with an increase of 11.6% of the consolidated Budget, representing 24.5% of public investment of the total Budget”.
Crespo thanked the Andalusian Government, the Andalusian Government delegate in Almeria, provincial delegates and Andalusian parliamentarians for their work in achieving what he described as “a historic budget that reflects what the people of Almeria need”. He also stressed that it is a “transparent budget, more than 60% of which is provincialised”.
Crespo said she was “very satisfied with these figures, which make us the Regional Ministry with the greatest investment capacity in the Andalusian Regional Government, both in the whole of the autonomous community and in the province of Almería”. The minister focused on Almería, where the provincialised expenditure amounts to 139.5 million euros, which represents 34.6% of the total provincialised investment of the Regional Government of Andalusia for 2024″. He emphasised that “more than one out of every three euros invested by the Andalusian Regional Government is invested in the policies of this ministry in the provincial territory of Almeria”.
Crespo underlined that “the most important measure is the water policy, which is vital for Andalusia and is at the centre of the budget, with an investment of 59 million euros for 2024”. The Councillor praised the budget which, once again, “once again demonstrates the revolution in water infrastructures, which allows us to reach all the regions of Almeria, for example, with phases 2 and 3 of the actions in the Almanzora Valley, relating to the Sufi pipeline and the improvement of the DWTP of Cuevas del Almanzora.
In terms of desalination, the budgets contemplate, although it is not the responsibility of the Andalusian Government, the connection of desalinated water to 70% of the population of the Poniente Almeriense through the projects in Roquetas, which are already underway, and in El Ejido, with work to begin before the end of 2023. It also includes studies to bring desalinated water from the Carboneras desalination plant to Venta del Pobre so that the State can undertake this work. He has asked the Spanish Government to double the capacity of the desalination plants in the province, which are under its jurisdiction, in its General State Budget.
Crespo has indicated that “the tertiary ones acquire a great prominence, as a new and important water source for irrigators, thanks to the firm commitment to reclaimed water, with the injection of 28 cubic hectometres in 2024, in addition to the 12 that we incorporate from El Ejido and Roquetas de Mar”. In this sense, the PJA of 2024 contemplate these infrastructures to provide reclaimed water from the Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) of Vera, El Toyo, El Bobar, Mojácar, Cuevas del Almanzora, Balerma and Adra.
In terms of wastewater treatment, Carmen Crespo highlighted the extensions to the El Ejido, Adra and Roquetas de Mar WWTPs, the completion of work on the El Cautivo WWTP, as well as the start of work on the Mojácar waste and wastewater treatment plant, which will affect the whole of the Levante Almeriense region; the Fondón WWTP, the Medio Andarax collector and the Alhama de Almería WWTP, with the Adra-Guainos-Alcazaba WWTP in the process of obtaining Unified Environmental Authorisation (AAU), as well as other WWTPs such as those of Abla, María, Vélez Rubio, Cabo de Gata in the process of obtaining its AAU and those of the neighbourhoods of Huércal-Overa in the programme.
The 2024 PJA also contemplates the completion of the ongoing restoration of the large rivers in the province, with the projects of the Medio and Alto Almanzora, the headwaters of the river Andarax and the river Antas, which absorbs the largest amount, due to its complexity, with 6 million euros. In addition, more than 6 million euros will be invested in the adaptation and improvement of the safety of wadis and riverbeds in the Vega de Almería, the Poniente Almeriense and the Campo de Níjar.
The Regional Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development also explained the importance of the investment to improve the energy efficiency of irrigation communities in the province, with a budgeted investment of 7.6 million euros, always with the intention of lowering the water and energy footprint.
The Regional Minister described as “strategic and fundamental” the aid for generational renewal in the countryside, highlighting that Almeria is the first province in Spain in this area, well above the average with 9%. In this sense, Crespo recalled that “we have already incorporated more than 800 young people from Almeria, 4,000 in Andalusia, into the agricultural sector and we have a provincialised budget for 2024 that amounts to 19 million euros”. The objective, as he has detailed, is to incorporate 200 more young people with the new budget in Almeria and 1,000 in the whole of the autonomous community, as well as lowering the ageing rate by two more points.
These aids, as she explained, “are complemented by those for the modernisation of agricultural infrastructures, which in this 2024 PJA are almost tripled, with an increase of 153% to 39.9 million euros for the province”.
Carmen Crespo has also put the accent on agricultural insurance, for which the PJA contemplates 16.6 million euros to support their contracting, 115.6% more than in 2018.
Finally, from the budgets for the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the councillor stressed that “Almeria will benefit from a high percentage of support for the productive sectors with, for example, 6 million euros for the modernisation of our agribusiness, with actions in the Smart Green Cube of the Innovation Pole, for example”. Not forgetting 10 million euros in the province for rural roads and, no less important, the 70 million planned for the OPFH Almeria in 2024.
In agricultural matters, he also highlighted the agri-environmental aid, with a budget for 2024 of 124.3 million euros and, as Crespo explained, “with special emphasis on the north of the province of Almeria for almond trees and livestock”.
With regard to the fishing sector, it is worth highlighting the reinforcement of fishing inspection and the revitalisation of the Nautical Fishing Centre of Almeria, through the Ifapa. It also adds more funds for the diversification and transformation of fishing and aquaculture, with 1.6 million euros. In addition, almost 2 million euros for the Local Action Groups of the Fisheries Sector of the Poniente Almeriense and the Almeria Coast.
In terms of education, Carmen Crespo stressed that “the Andalusian Regional Government has committed to maintaining 1,500 extraordinary reinforcement teachers in Andalusia this school year with its own funds, of which 145 correspond to the province of Almeria”. He also pointed out the importance of lowering ratios in classrooms, support for families and the reinforcement of the budget for special educational needs.
Crespo pointed out that the PJA for 2024 includes the construction of the new IES Las Salinas in Roquetas de Mar, the continuation of the construction of the CEIP Bahía de Almerimar, the extension of the IES Al-Bujaira in Huércal-Overa and the IES Los Ángeles in the capital, as well as the drafting of the projects for the new IES of El Ejido and Las Marinas in Roquetas de Mar. In addition, improvements are planned for CEIP Pedro Mena and IES Gaviota in Adra, the upgrading to C1 of CEIP La Paz de las Norias -already under construction-, in El Ejido; the extension and improvement of IES Sol de Portocarrero in La Cañada de San Urbano -under construction-, the extension and reform of CEIP Europa Ramos Santander in Almería and the extension of IES Murgi in El Ejido, both of which are also under construction. Not forgetting the more than 20 million euros to be allocated to Interactive Digital Classrooms.
The budget for the University of Almeria amounts to 10 million euros and 1.5 million euros will be allocated to the Calar Alto Astronomy Centre.
Tourism, Culture and Sport
The Regional Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport will invest a provincialised budget of 7 million euros in Almería in 2024. Crespo explained that “the actions are aimed at continuing to improve the main monuments of the province”, with an investment of 2 million euros for the improvement of the Castle of Vélez Blanco, which is part of an agreement signed with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; 1.7 million euros for improvements to the South Wall of the Alcazaba of Almeria or the incorporation of Los Millares for its scientific enhancement through the University of Granada. To this is added 1.2 million euros for Almeria capital within the Tourism Plan for Large Cities.
These accounts also include the firm commitment to support self-employment and the social economy with the implementation of the new Zero Quota, which will be 100% subsidised for new self-employed and entrepreneurs in Almeria and the rest of Andalusia. An investment of 5.4 million euros for aid to the self-employed stands out, with the province of Almeria receiving the largest share, with 3.7 million euros. Crespo assured that the budget also includes funds for the Marble School in the municipality of Fines, as well as the continuation of the Renove Plan with new employment offices in Roquetas de Mar, Albox and Almería capital, in addition to a new call for collaboration with local councils in the field of employment with 12 months of paid training with an investment of 6 million euros.
Presidency, Interior and Social Dialogue
Carmen Crespo also detailed the “significant investment to be made by the Regional Ministry of the Presidency in digitalisation, with budgeted provincial investments amounting to 8.6 million euros. Specifically, they focus on digital transformation in the Digital Skills Plan, ICT infrastructures and cybersecurity, connectivity of industrial estates, aid for high-speed networks, ICT services and applications, as well as the commission for digital transformation, ICT solutions for the administration and digitisation of SMEs.
Economy, Finance and European Funds
In addition, from the Regional Ministry of Economy, Finance and European Funds, Crespo pointed out that “the Government of Andalusia is responsible with the local councils, supporting municipalisation, which is why the allocations of the Municipal Cooperation Plan will grow again in 2024, reaching 2,113 million euros, 85.2% more than in 2018, 69 million euros more than in 2023”.
Social Inclusion, Youth, Families and Equality
Crespo also mentioned the great commitment, “unprecedented”, of the Andalusian Government to equality and social policies, with a continuous increase in budgets that is already, since 2018, 88%, with dependency policies increasing by 63%; 46% more in those relating to immigration; 64.4% in children’s policies, a 7% increase for the Women’s Institute and 0.6% in Youth. She is also committed to the reform of centres for the elderly, children and the disabled.
Carmen Crespo expressed her “pride” in the regional budgets that are “realistic and provide a boost for Almeria and for Andalusia as a whole, with all the historical demands being addressed”.