Spanish Watchdog Says Government Blocked Oversight of Budget

  • Airef unable to assess spending plan as information withheld
  • Cabinet due to approve 2016-2019 budget plan this week

Spain’s budget watchdog said it was unable to provide an independent evaluation of the government’s spending plans because it was denied critical information by ministers.

The watchdog, Airef -- set up in 2014 as a condition of Spain’s banking bailout -- said it did not obtain information on revenue and spending by the caretaker government and, as a result, it failed to produce an assessment of the government’s economic forecasts. Spain is facing potential sanctions from the European Union after missing its deficit-reduction target in 2015 despite numerous warnings.

“The Airef received neither a draft of the 2016-2019 Stability Program nor any information related to its content,” the watchdog, led by former Bank for International Settlements official Jose Luis Escriva, said in a statement on its website. “Without the slightest details on the breakdown of revenue and spending, it’s not possible to evaluate the impact of the public sector on the Spanish economy.”

Earlier this month Airef criticized the government for ignoring its warnings over the risk of a missing the deficit and cutting resources that left it unable to do its job properly. Acting Economy Minister Luis de Guindos is due to appear before parliament Tuesday to explain the government’s budget plans and the cabinet is expected to approve the plan on Friday. The program has to be delivered to officials in Brussels by the end of April.

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