“Today there are no direct communication channels between the government and Spanish entrepreneurssimply because part of the government is allergic to entrepreneurship and ignores the fact that in order to distribute wealth, you first have to create it, and entrepreneurs do that”. This was the answer to Atalayar’s questions by the president of the Círculo de Empresarios, Manuel Pérez-Sala, during the presentation of the results of the annual survey carried out by this institution.
He and the president of the working group that made up the sample, Miguel Iraburu, made no secret of their discomfort, their disappointment and their weariness in the face of the repetition year after year of the indicators which show that the essential fundamental reforms whose country needs are not being addressed. Both have harshly criticized the fact that productivity in Spain is 16% below the European average; that GDP growth is the lowest in the EU, which has led countries like Ireland and Slovenia to overtake us, as well as the inefficiency in the management of Next Generation funds, “to the point that 25% of the initial 7,000 million have been returned to the Treasury, due to the immense obstacles and bureaucracies encountered”. The lack of confidence in the management of these funds is such that 55% of entrepreneurs who could have applied for them say they have given up on applying for them.
Between 70 and 80% of the businessmen consulted consider that the progressive lack of competitiveness of the Spanish economy (36th place in the 2022 ranking of the International Institute for Management Development, led by Denmark and Switzerland) , is due to obstacles such as the increasingly heavy regulatory burden, the deterioration of institutional quality and the lack of legal certainty.
They call again on the government and the political parties to tackle the structural reforms that the Spanish economy needsand among those they consider the most urgent, they highlight the one that affects the efficiency of public administrations, accompanied by “a radical tax reform that allows us, as citizens, to know where our money is really going”.
Stirring up intergenerational shock
Education is another of the reforms considered urgent by the Círculo de Empresarios, where 80% of respondents see the changes resulting from LOMLOE as negative. In this respect, they recommend as priority measures the promotion of work-study vocational training, the introduction of values and the taking into account of entrepreneurship from primary school and the adaptation of the offer of diplomas to the reality of the market. “That way, we wouldn’t be faced with such discouraging data as the fact that there are 150,000 unfilled qualified jobs when we have more than three million unemployed,” Pérez-Sala pointed out.
In response to another question raised by Atalayar, the president of the Círculo de Empresarios rejected the idea that the new general budgets presented by the government show solidarity, and even accused that they encourage intergenerational confrontation: “It does not show solidarity that, while workers only see their incomes increase by around 2-3%, pensioners are going to receive an increase of 8%, especially when such a large increase will be paid for by debt huge amount that today’s assets will have to pay”. In addition, beyond this one-off increase, coinciding with an election year, the report is concerned about the sustainability of the payment of these pensions and recommends encouraging active life after the legal retirement age, as well as the establishment of capitalization of the so-called “Austrian backpack” type, which accompanies the entire professional life of each worker.
Business circles are also calling for tax incentives for investment, a reduction in social security contributions payable by the company (85% against 15% for the worker (60%-40% in the EU), the abolition wealth tax (Spain is the only EU country that maintains it), and maintenance of inheritance and gift taxbut with high exemptions for direct transfers, since most Spanish companies are small family businesses.