The Government relieves the director of Incasòl due to the social flats controversy in Barcelona

The Government relieves the director of Incasòl due to the social flats controversy in Barcelona

BarcelonaThe Government has this Friday relieved the director of the Catalan Soil Institute (Incasòl), Maria Sisternas, due to the controversy over the 637 social flats in Barcelona that the Government agreed with the City Council and whose construction has been halted. The current Director General of Territorial Planning, Urban Planning and Architecture, Agustí Serra, will take over from now on. The Department of Territory has sent a statement this evening in which it explains that the board of directors of Incasòl had accepted the resignation that Sisternas put on the table and in writing a week ago if the department did not go ahead with these homes. In conversation with the ARA, however, Sisternas assures that in that message he asked that the plan be reconsidered or that they consider his resignation, but that he has never presented any letter.

In practice, says Sisternas, it was a termination that was on the table this Friday in the board of directors of Incasòl. The architect says that the dismissal is due to the “profound discrepancy” with the construction project of 637 social flats in Barcelona that was agreed with the City Council at the beginning of the year. “I asked to go ahead with the architectural competitions provided for in the agreement signed by the Generalitat and Barcelona City Council and which, after eight months of technical work, were ready to go ahead,” he says.

From the Department of Territory they assure that Sisternas submitted his resignation last Friday conditional on the promotion of flats and that this Friday the board of directors of Incasòl has accepted it. For Sisternas, the reason for the termination is their “willingness to carry out the tenders that were supposed to guarantee the availability of more housing in Barcelona”. “This project was supposed to be the spearhead of Incasòl, to relaunch it as the public promoter of the Generalitat and regain cruising speed after many years without producing housing,” he says. If until 2008 Incasòl built 1,500 homes annually, since the bursting of the real estate bubble and until 2017 none were built.

The budgets

The department insists that since the accounts did not go ahead, these homes had to remain closed, as they already explained to this newspaper a week ago. “The department will not start a process like this without having the funding guaranteed”, they assured. The same sources recall that they also included the project in the decree regulating temporary rent, but that it also fell through Parliament because the PSC did not participate support.

However, Sisternas does not link this budgetary availability to the agreement signed with Barcelona. “It is legitimate that politically now it is considered that the project cannot go ahead: the moment is critical and I share the disappointment at the non-approval of the budgets. But it is not because the work is not done or there is no funding. The money is there they are,” he says. And he adds: “It is true that more money is needed to build housing, and that in the future the financing model of the Incasòl will have to be reconsidered, but in this case the excuse of money is no use. This program was ready and has a bag of bail money to deal with the first phase.” In other words, to give the start to the project, which would not involve paying the €83 million in which the entire construction is valued.

In fact, the same department admits that over the last 15 years it has accumulated “accounting losses” that have had an impact on its funds, but that the bonds allow Incasòl to “continue executing most of its investments”. However, in January 2024 Incasòl produced a report in which it “stated” that in 2027 the net accumulated amount of the bonds would not be sufficient to finance all this investment and would create “an imbalance, an economic hole, of 61 million euros”. Government sources claim that legislative change was to be pushed through this year’s budgets. This would have provided between 80 and 90 million euros of income to finance these flats.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have served the Government and I will continue to contribute to the right to housing in any way I can from now on. The administration’s inaction has costs that our children’s generation cannot afford. Hopefully in the future can be resumed [el projecte] and the model can be reproduced in other cities in Catalonia,” concludes Sisternas.

2024-06-21 20:51:08
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