En el número 105 de la Revista de Estudios Regionales publico un artículo titulado "Control del endeudamiento autonómico y estabilidad presupuestaria: evolución y propuestas de futuro". Forma parte de un monográfico sobre treinta años de modelos de financiación autonómica, coordinado por Luis Ángel Hierro Recio. El texto completo de mi trabajo está aquí. Como muestra, os dejo el resumen.
El trabajo repasa los argumentos económicos para el endeudamiento subcentral en un contexto federal y analiza la normativa de control del endeudamiento autonómico en perspectiva histórica. Se señalan en todo el proceso las regulaciones europeas que han ido inspirando las modificaciones normativas en España. También se presentan las principales cifras relativas al endeudamiento autonómico y se plantean algunas propuestas para mejorar la eficacia de las limitaciones y la coherencia entre las más tradicionales y las contenidas en la última normativa de estabilidad presupuestaria.
The work reviews the economic arguments for sub-central borrowing in a federal context and it analyzes the regulation of the normative limitations in Spain from a historical perspective. European regulations that have been inspiring the Spanish legislation are outlined throughout the sections. The main figures of the regional debt and some proposals for improving the effectiveness and coherence of the limitations are also presented. Posed by improving coherence between more traditional and regulations contained in the latest budget stability.
In a federal system, the intervention of sub-central governments in policy is intrinsic. Their participation in the stabilization function can be discussed from a theoretical point of view, but in practice means a reality long ago. This is not inconsistent with the fact that other areas of this function remain exclusively in the respective central government or supranational level.
Economic theory supports sub-central borrowing as a way to finance, although advised to restrict their use to finance investments, for reasons of efficiency and intergenerational equity. Faced with some radical orthodoxy that still calls for prohibiting sub-central borrowing, the reality must be much more pragmatic: the design of an effective internal framework of budgetary stability and financial sustainability that can make compatible decentralization and macroeconomic objectives. It must combine elements of independence, strictness, flexibility, multilateral agreement and, in the case of Spain, consistency with the European standards.
The Spanish regions have full constitutional backing to borrow, subject to legal basic limitations (LOFCA) and what is here termed software of the budgetary stability. From its primary antecedents –in the nineties- to the refined version that derives from the constitutional reform of 2011, four definitions of budgetary stability have been developed in different times: non-financial deficit, nominal deficit, deficit in the economic cycle and structural deficit. The common denominator has always been the internal reaction to changes in European legislation, a process that accelerated in the years following the crisis that began in 2008 and, further, to the emergency arising from the ‘rescue’ loan to Spain in 2012.
The Spanish Organic Law of Budgetary Stability and Financial Sustainability (LOEPSF) has organized a system of stringent controls over regional and local borrowing, but at the same time it is plagued by extraordinary mechanisms and transitional periods that de facto denature the original legislation. On the other hand, the act provides objectives for structural deficit and debt in 2020 that, especially in the second case, crave unrealizable in all respects. Meanwhile, micro-limitations under the LOFCA, despite its importance as elements of budgetary and financial discipline, are difficult to operate on their own terms, because they do not have a specific monitoring body and, finally, they have been cornered against the macro-objectives embedded in the LOEPSF.
The figures presented on regional debt have shown that this variable has acquired a very significant volume and, therefore, it should be considered with their specificities within the general policy of budgetary and financial control. However, LOEPSF has imposed an identical target in terms of GDP in all regions, which seems neither fair nor efficient as it involves very different adjustment efforts, according to their structures of revenues and their respective deficit and debt. On the other hand, extreme austerity in public finances can no longer be applied so undisputed, if not at the expense of further weakening economic recovery.
The proposed reforms are targeted to improve the legislation on a more coherent way for the integrated control of regional indebtness and the general financing system. This immediately leads to a parallel reform of the LOFCA and the LOEPSF, without prejudice the special regimes that can regulate the Statutes of Autonomy. The revision must be in 2015, along with the new flexible orientations of the European criteria. The common feature of the recent decrees that regulate regional financing is that they undermine fiscal co-responsibility.
In short, financial autonomy, coordination and budgetary stability, as defining elements of fiscal federalism and, in the case of Spain, as constitutional principles, must work harmoniously. Peremptory becomes a conjunction between these three lines and not a dilemma that puts the whole in danger, along with other objectives of social and democratic state of law that proclaims the Constitution.