MADRID – Yesterday, Tuesday, started the most important debate of the year in Spain: the State of the Nation Debate. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has assured that everything will be done to curb inflation in favour of the middle and working class.
This will translate, among other things, into new taxes on the profits of electricity companies and financial institutions. Pedro Sánchez also pointed out that from September 1, the government will give a 100% discount on transport subscriptions for the short-distance trains of Cercanías and Rodalias (Renfe). His government wants to take progressive measures that will support the most vulnerable in society.
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Among the announced star measures, the president has specified a new tax on the profits of energy companies. Moreover, this will bring in about €2 billion per year. However, it will be exceptional and temporary (2022 and 2023).
To this will be added an exceptional tax for the next two years for large financial entities for the financial years 2022 and 2023. This will generate an estimated €1.5 billion per year.
Inflation is the biggest problem
The president listed the new measures after acknowledging that inflation is Spain’s biggest problem and wanting to address citizens directly: “I am fully aware of most people’s day-to-day difficulties. I know and I take my responsibility.”
Additional scholarships for students
Another measure that Sánchez has demanded is an additional grant of €100 per month for all students over 16 who already have one. That means nearly one million students get this scholarship from September to December.
Sánchez also announced other steps that are on the agenda in the coming months. Below is the adoption of laws on sustainable mobility, industry and patronage. The government also intends to take active action in the areas of democracy and civil rights, including Informant Protection Act, Comprehensive Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Act, Racial Discrimination Act, Official Secrets Act, and Lobbying Act.
Another promise is that the government wants to introduce robotics and programming to children in primary and secondary schools. There will also be a new PAC to promote the countryside. The national health care system must also improve with the establishment of the National Centre for Public Care.
The plan also includes unprecedented investments to enable the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands to become completely low-carbon areas and the approval of two strategic plans for the economic development of Ceuta and Melilla.
Inflation as a “big challenge”
“Spain’s big challenge is inflation,” noted Sánchez, who focused most of his speech on prices. He also contradicted those who believe that inflation is only a result of decisions made by the current government. Sánchez repeatedly noted that inflation is mainly an economic consequence of the war in Ukraine. “It is not an endemic disease in Spain, it affects the entire planet,” he emphasised.
The president said he wanted to be clear and that nothing can be ruled out in the coming months, as there are no signs of the end of the war. Energy-saving measures must be taken, such as lowering the heating, promoting working from home or using the air conditioning less.
“I’m not talking around it, because I’m not going to hide the risks, but I’m also not going to surrender to unnecessary disasters,” the president said from his seat in parliament.
“We go for everyone”
“Clear promise. We go for everyone. I will do everything in my power to defend the middle and working-class”, said the socialist, presenting himself as a “president used to fight adversity with unity, resistance and hope”.
This is the first state of the State of the Nation debate starring Pedro Sánchez. The last time it was held was in 2015.