Clara Ferrando (València, 1973) knows very well the risks of not having a healthy account. Because the current autonomous finance secretary, has spent many years in private banking managing and studying the sustainability of financial projects. Now, Clara Ferrando, who is a member of Compromís, fights, along with socialist conseller Vicent Soler, to ensure that the Valencian Community abandons its financial asphyxia, conditioned by two factors: a huge debt that makes the credibility necessary to go to the financial markets impossible private, and bad regional financing that makes it difficult to maintain the quality of public services. In this interview, she explains what conditions are necessary to overcome what she calls “financial kidnapping” of the State.
The barons of the PP say that the finance minister, Cristobal Montoro does not want to forgive the debt to the autonomies, and Montoro himself talks about restructuring it without specifying how. How do you perceive this message from the Conselleria?
Our perception is of absolute concern. Our country without an orderly restructuring or without a solution to the public debt that we have historically accumulated, which also contemplates a remission or compensation of part of the debt that has not been generated by an increase in expenditure but by underfunding, will be in a very complicated situation. This restructuring, which could go through different partial solutions, should contemplate a main one that is a forgiveness of that debt generated, precisely, by an unjust and unbalanced financing model with Valencians.
Restructuring, forgiveness, compensation, are terms that are spoken but not specified. What is really needed? What should the formula be?
There are many ways to restructure the debt. One would be to increase the terms to pay that debt. We are clear and assume budgetary stability and obviously that the debt has to be paid with its corresponding interests. But the debt that corresponds to us, which has been caused by political management in the past, well or badly done, because there are also the extra costs, corruption, and so on. But not the one that is caused by underfunding. The restructuring could come to extend terms, increase or return to have periods of cadence or reduction of interest rates, without that supposed a condoning. But that will not be enough for the Valencian Country. Necessarily there would be a fourth or main one that is the cancellation or compensation.
The truth is that we are very concerned about the conceptual definition of alternative mechanisms. These should be from their origin, as their name suggests, alternative. And not a necessity before the fact that resources do not reach you, because they should have arrived naturally in a good system of regional financing. It is then when they force you to commit yourself, to make use of those loans, not because we have spent more than the rest, because we have not done it; simply because you can not cover the needs of coverage of minimum public services and quality, which are also services required by law. It is, in short, a kidnapping, because it is to obtain resources that you do not have through loans with the Ministry of Finance, with their respective interests. What we should receive is just a financing, not a loan, and that does not force us to return with interest. In addition, they make the ball of debt bigger and bigger.
Clear. Any company does not use only one bank, the diversification of credit is fundamental, because it is also a risk diversification, and I know it well because I come from the banking sector. We do not have the option of going to the private sector, because of the debt we have. We can only ask for credit from the State, which is in the end a financial kidnapping. We do not want only the restructuring of the debt, what we want is to be able to return to financial markets and without that financial unsustainability, because now we are unsustainable, we can not go. What the State should do is not to gather their barons to say to say they do not want to forgive the debt, what the State should do is look at the territorial problems and look for a solution. Our debt would translate into a rating so low that for people who had to invest we should pay coupons to more than 8% or more. So we are an autonomous community not second, but third.
Do you think that de facto the Valencian is an autonomy intervened because of the debt
The truth is that yes, because with a simple closing of the tap we have a serious problem. We ask you each year since we are in the government for an income scheduling, to know when they will arrive; is that we can not plan anything, we ask in a letter from the minister to the minister, to know when the ordinary FLA or the extraordinary FLA will arrive. That is coming to you from May when they want and how they want, and it is a total hijacking of financial autonomy, and thus there can be no political autonomy.
In the Valencian Country does not fit any other restructuring that does not go through a condonation, because the State has to find a solution to our financial unsustainability. Not because it touches us, because it has already been done in other autonomies such as Andalusia or Extremadura; and not only because of underfunding, but because the State is the one that must be the first to seek a solution.
Do you trust that there will be a proposal for a new financing model in 2018?
We had the hope that in 2017 the commitment launched by President Mariano Rajoy to the conference of presidents would be fulfilled, and it was a pity that there is no institutional loyalty to the need for financial sufficiency. Hope is the last thing that is lost, because otherwise it would be a mockery, an insult to intelligence, and a lack of respect and a word to Valencians.
The PP warns that to change the model needs the support of the PSOE. Do you trust that socialists are sensitive to the Valencian reality?
I trust and I do not doubt that the PSPV totally agrees with us, but of course that is the difference with Compromís, that we must not render accounts to a state party with a presence in Madrid. I have no doubt that the PSPV wants to assert its defense of what this land needs, as President Ximo Puig defends; and I hope that it does not have problems so that it is successful within the PSOE.
Are you worried that in the end with financing a two-speed Spain will be consolidated, with well-financed autonomies such as the Basque Country or Galicia and others such as Valencia?
Until now, I have not seen the will of the representatives of the Government of Spain. We have an expired system, there have been opportunities to open the debate, the words have been broken, and of course I am concerned that there are autonomies at different speeds. Because it also seems that there is no desire to solve it. The solution must be proposed by the Government of Spain and it does not.
“I am concerned about the consolidation of a two-speed Spain, between good and badly financed autonomies.”
In all this debate, what does seem is that the social and political unity is being broken around the demand for better financing.
From the moment that Mrs. Isabel Bonig does not comply with the agreement of the Valencian Courts and that they no longer remember their commitments to ask for the historical debt, it is difficult to achieve union. But Botanic’s government is committed to its goal, and we will not stop explaining the situation to Valencians every day.