The collapse of the coalition government in the Generalitat last October resulted in the automatic dismissal of seven junts for every Catalunya council member, triggering a domino effect that swept away secretaries, directors-general and trusted aides close to the party. The subsequent reassignment of some senior positions puts the effectiveness of the incompatibility law passed by Parliament in December 2005 to the test. Gerard Figueras was general secretary for sport and was hired by the DIR chain of gyms, Carles Sala was secretary for housing and ended up in the College of Real Estate Agents (API), former justice minister Lourdes Ciuró has signed for the Association of Property Administrators and the Journalist Jofre Llombart has joined El Nacional from the Diffusion Secretariat, the body in charge of controlling institutional advertising received from the media.
The Catalan law on incompatibilities requires senior officials in public administration to “demonstrate the impartiality of their actions through absolute devotion to the functions entrusted to them, which must not be mediated by any other activity or interest”. In Article 7, it stipulates that during the two years following their dismissal, “they may not engage in private activities related to the files in the resolution of which they directly intervened in the performance of a high office”. Vidal Aragonès is a labor lawyer and a member of the Colectivo Ronda legal association. He has a background in the political field, having served as an MP in Parliament with the CUP between 2018 and 2021. He says he uses “a technical analysis” to argue that the rule on incompatibilities “has some toast to the sun. ” He believes that the door will be opened to the restriction of functions after the government has been left very flexible. , says the jurist. “The interpretation given is that you cannot participate in private activities directly related to the direct subject matter of these files, but I believe that in reality the rule states that senior officials cannot benefit from it to be hired by someone whose file has been resolved,” analyzes Vidal Aragonès.
Gerard Figueras served as Generalitat Secretary-General for Sport until June 2021, when he moved to the Foreign Action Department. In April 2021, the Generalitat injected 2.6 million euros into the gym chain DIR to help alleviate the impact on the company caused by the pandemic. DIR received almost a third of the €9 million the government approved to give oxygen to businesses damaged by Covid. Last October, after junts left the government, Figueras resigned as foreign minister. Now he works as a deputy director of the company DIR. “For many years, the Generalitat has had very clear rules about the incompatibility of leadership positions when they leave the administration,” says Figueras.
Public function of the Generalitat, a department integrated into the department of the Presidency, is responsible for analyzing the requests related to possible incompatibilities submitted by senior civil servants and administrative employees. Citing data protection concerns, the agency is not disclosing requests it has received to validate the employment of staff made redundant as a result of the government’s recent reorganization. “My interpretation coincides with that of the company I work for, there is no incompatibility,” concludes Figueras. “I had nothing to do with this line of credit, that was the responsibility of the business department.”
The journalist Jofre Llombart points out that he asked for “legal advice” to check the job offer that the editor of the digital news channel El Nacional had sent him. “I consulted with lawyers at my own risk,” he says. Llombart, with a long career in journalism, had a brief stint in administration. For 15 months between July 2021 and October 2022, he served as the Government’s Secretary for Diffusion, a position in the shadow of the Secretary of Commerce and charged with managing media advertising. In 2021, El Nacional received €662,000 in institutional advertising, around €70,000 more than the previous year, making it the top digital beneficiary. The publisher claims it is the digital one in Catalan with the best viewership. Llombart states that his relationship with the media was indirect. “Diffusion does not conclude direct contracts with the media, but contracts with the media centers that are responsible for the distribution of advertising according to established criteria.”
Carles Sala, who twice held the post of Minister for Housing, was sacked after the coalition government broke up. As a lawyer and civil servant, he is director of the Legal Department and spokesman for the College of Real Estate Agents of Catalonia. After leaving the government, Sala received three job offers. He explains that he himself consulted the Judicial Council of the Generalitat and followed the law of incompatibilities. She points out that, given the legal services’ doubts, she ruled out one of the job offers, while the other two “complied strictly with the law”. Sala argues that these are not revolving doors, understood as a member of a board of directors of a company who can reap greater benefits with the contacts of a managerial position. “A professional association is a non-profit organization, it interests me professionally,” he defends himself. Although they usually have a voice and apply pressure or allegations about pending housing legislation. They are informed, for example, that they are firmly opposed to the regulation of rental prices Clara Blanchar.
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Former directors Jordi Puigneró and Jaume Giró have revealed that they find it difficult to accept a job offer from a private sector company due to potential conflicts in balancing the responsibilities they have during their time as Heads of Territory and digital policy have perceived the economy, the others. Giró has applied for the pension of €2,200 a month that former members of the government are entitled to for a period of 18 months if they cannot find work. Lourdes Ciuró was Minister of Justice and now works as an adviser to the College of Property Administrators of Barcelona and Lleida. At the head of Justícia, Ciuró campaigned for an amendment to the Catalan Civil Code to speed up the eviction of squats.
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