More Investments Are Being Derived To Catalonia Than To The Rest Of Spain

When you ask him what makes the leader of Madrid businessmen sleepless, he reacts quickly and answers emphatically with just two words: profitability and viability for the post-pandemic time. His friends say he is a black-legged businessman, founder in 1985 of Viajes Eco, a company specializing in business travel. Miguel Garrido de la Cierva (Madrid, 1960), president of the Madrid Business Confederation and vice president of CEOE, he was president of the Madrid Association of Young Entrepreneurs and of the Spanish Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs.

He has been a member of the Board of Directors of CEOE and CEIM, where he has also held the position of Secretary General. He has also been Managing Director of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce and has had extensive political experience in the Madrid Government: Deputy Minister of Employment, Economy and Technological Innovation, Minister of the Environment and President of Canal de Isabel II.

It also has a recognized reputation as a gourmet. He is a kind and educated man, with impeccable and very combative manners who is very clear about what it means to be the face and the voice of the companies he represents.

Finally, the large companies in Madrid, such as El Corte Inglés, Santander or Acciona, are vaccinating. What is the scope of this decision? And how is Madrid different from other autonomies?

Within the collaboration that we are having with the Community of Madrid through the Sumamos plan, many actions of diagnostic centers, testing, etc. have been included. and other collaborations with companies.

Now the vaccination campaign has started. The difference between the agreement of the Community of Madrid with others is that here companies not only vaccinate employees, but the entire population. Any citizen of Madrid can make an appointment and request it in these three companies. In other places, such as the Seat of Catalonia, only workers were vaccinated. That is the difference.

Well, the Government initially was not in favor of vaccination in companies. How has the issue been resolved?

In the pandemic, on many occasions what the Government of Madrid has requested was first absolutely rejected by the Government of Spain and then applied by them. Health said that it could not be allowed to be vaccinated in the companies and in the end they have realized that it was a mistake. This is an altruistic collaboration, absolutely generous, because companies pay for everything. In the end, common sense has prevailed.

What impact does this measure have?

The impact is important because the requirements that have been asked of these companies is that they vaccinate at least a thousand people a day, and that they be open during the months of July and August because due to the holidays of health personnel there will be greater difficulty in the vaccination centers and public hospitals.

What is stopping Madrid businessmen from their sleep?

Profitability makes us sleepless. We need to be profitable to be viable, and everything that hinders profitability, such as increased tax pressure or rigid contracts, hurts us and goes against what is needed at the moment.

After ending the state of alarm, it seems that the economy is vitaminizing and tax collection has risen by 13%. Are there reasons for optimism?

This crisis has had a solely and exclusively sanitary origin, and we knew that when the problem was solved and there were vaccines, the recovery would begin. The fall was enormous and the growth that is taking place now only compensates a part of what we lost, and we still have a long way to go. The recovery after the summer will occur with some consistency despite the spikes in contagion that we are seeing. Another thing is that we regain the competitiveness of our companies that we had in 2019, and that will take longer.

Conjuncture: “The recovery after the summer will be consistent despite the new spikes in infections”

When do you estimate that we could be in numbers similar to those before the pandemic?

At CEIM we do not like to make forecasts, firstly because in the pandemic all the forecasts were wrong, and the fall was much greater than any analyst could have predicted. In addition, the recovery will depend on whether the measures that the economy needs are taken to become competitive again. The messages that we are hearing from the Government of Spain go in the opposite direction, with which we can hardly recover that competitiveness that would allow us to grow.

What exactly do you mean when you talk about messages going in the opposite direction?

I mean that reforms are needed to improve the productivity of Spanish companies. First, flexibility in the workplace is essential to be able to compete in a globalized world. This labor flexibility is very important to be able to adapt the costs that the company has with the production it carries out. Employment depends on companies doing well and we are concerned about the messages that are being launched from the Government in the opposite direction to what is needed and what Europe is asking for.

The unions insist on a total repeal of the labor reform. What would that scenario mean?

A total repeal of the labor reform would seem absurd to me and would mean going back more than a decade in improving the competitiveness of companies. I think it would be suicide for everyone.

Employment: “Repealing the labor reform would mean going back a decade in competitiveness”

Have the Ertes been a lifeline or are they finally becoming Eres as feared?

The Ertes have played an important role in solving a temporary problem, but now the damage is no longer temporary, but structural. Many of the companies that have a solvency and liquidity problem need other tools. The Ertes have been very necessary, they have saved many companies and jobs, but now many companies need the Eres to remain competitive and to survive.

When it returns to the path of growth, it will be possible to create jobs again, but for now we must contain the drain on companies. The bankruptcy figures are very important because at the national level they have increased by 80%.

What do you think of the new Erte proposed by the Minister of Labor that will allow a reduction in working hours but cannot be fired in six months?

Anything that is limiting the freedom of management of an entrepreneur is negative, and that Erte formula that is proposed now is also negative. Dismissal is an adjustment measure that has immediate negative effects for the worker, but can be enormously positive for all workers in a company. That for ideological reasons business and management freedom is limited, and how to manage human resources is imposed, I think is outrageous and very negative.

How do you rate Minister Yolanda Díaz?

I believe that the minister is a person with a negotiating spirit, but with ideas that I do not share, nor do I believe that they are positive for what Spain needs. He is a nice person, with whom you can dialogue, but his ideological approaches are bad for Spain and for Spanish companies.

Yolanda Díaz: “The minister’s proposals are bad for Spain and Spanish companies”

Hey, are European funds going to be the manna to get us out of the crisis or a very powerful electoral weapon in the hands of the Government?

The reconstruction funds are a European bet that future generations will pay with their taxes. They are not a manna or a gift from heaven, they should serve to transform the productive fabric and be more competitive. That one can make an interested, partisan or electoral use of these funds would be a great mistake and also Europe will not allow it. At the moment, the Government has an enormous opacity about them, we do not know how or when they will reach Spanish companies.

You have been very critical of Pedro Sánchez, accusing him of offering privileges to Catalonia against Madrid to satisfy the independentists. Is that so?

The facts are overwhelming, and in recent years the investments that have been derived to Catalonia are much higher than those that have been made in the rest of Spain. Pedro Sánchez is satisfying his pro-independence partners.

That goes without saying. We are checking how, at the negotiating table, the pro-independence parties intend to limit the autonomous powers of other communities, specifically Madrid in tax matters, and that is unacceptable. The Government should clearly say that it is not going to unilaterally negotiate with Catalonia the autonomic financing of the rest of the autonomies. We are going to be very belligerent to defend the interests of the people of Madrid.

Is the fiscal harmonization that you are asking for Madrid a way to double the pulse of Isabel Díaz Ayuso because the PP governs?

The proposed tax harmonization is a scandal. It is embarrassing that those who are permanently demanding more powers seek to remove fiscal autonomy from other communities that are making efficient use of their fiscal policies.

By asking for harmonization, they intend to prevent Madrid from having efficient and courageous policies that have attracted more activity, investment and wealth. On the other hand, they want it not to be seen that there is another way to govern, without raising taxes.

Do you think there has been a kind of ‘madrileñophobia’ and harassment that, in the end, has electorally reinforced Isabel Díaz Ayuso?

I do not know whether or not there has been madrileñophobia, but Isabel Díaz Ayuso and the Government of the Community of Madrid have clearly demonstrated that the fight against the pandemic could be reconciled with the promotion of economic activity.

She has gone far ahead, not only of the Government of Spain, but of most of the autonomous communities, even those governed by her own party and that has caused her to be an enemy to be killed, because again she left the management in evidence in front of the story.

Be that as it may, from La Moncloa he continues to be accused of ‘fiscal dumping’, and they want to recover the Wealth Tax, raise the Donations and Inheritance Tax …

The experience of recent years shows that with a tax pressure that is more incentivizing and less invasive and confiscatory, the activity generates more tranquility, more employment, greater growth, collection and well-being for citizens. In Madrid, lowering taxes has greatly improved the quality of life of Madrilenians, and we are also more supportive with the rest of Spain than the rest

Taxation: “In Madrid, the tax cut has greatly improved the quality of life of Madrilenians”

What do you think about the pardons? Have the condemned by 1-O gone insanely, as some say, or not?

I believe that it is very important that the law is complied with, and that the facts have consequences, because legal security and certainty is essential for investment and for economic activity. The laws are to be observed, and those who have seriously transgressed the law should not benefit. We are neither in favor nor against the pardons that are the competence of the Government, but we think it is very negative that the image is transferred that crime is free.

Is it true that within the CEOE they forced Antonio Garamendi to rectify when he said he was in favor of pardons?

Antonio Garamendi after those statements, without being pressured or forced by anyone, said that if everyone had understood something other than what he wanted to say, they had probably been confused and even apologized for the confusion that this had caused.

In other words, the president of the CEOE is not in favor of this grace measure?

He has said that he was in favor of normality in Catalonia, but not of pardons. His clarification was sufficient and valid, and we have no reproach to make him.

Is it acceptable that the Generalitat has created a fund of 10 million to pay the fines of the Court of Accounts?

I do not know that fund in detail and I cannot comment on its legality. I believe that public money cannot be misused and that everything comes to nothing. If they have decided, in many cases, against the recommendations of the Generalitat’s own legal services, to proceed with actions that have involved misappropriation of public funds, as logically they must be held accountable for this.

The Catalan Minister of Economy Jaume Giró has already advanced an independence roadmap rejecting the fiscal deficit, proposing the issuance of debt, creating a public bank, etc. Are we in groundhog day?

The Catalan economy and all citizens have suffered identity policies that are far removed from the common good, and this has caused a lack of security and the departure of many companies from there. Anything that continues with policies that make coexistence difficult is bad for the Catalans and for the whole of Spain.

What did you think of José Luis Escrivá’s statement about the adjustment of pensions for the baby boom generation ?

That is an enormously complex issue. We are all aware that the pension financing model is unsustainable, and that a profound reform must be undertaken to guarantee the pensions of future retirees in Spain. I think there is a lack of courage to face the problem and Minister Escrivá’s reflection made perfect sense. We believe that there must be stability mechanisms to make the system viable, and that is a negotiation that must be taken by the whole of Spanish society in Parliament, not between the social agents, because that is not our competence.

Tell me, should the minimum wage be raised this year as Yolanda Díaz insists, or should it be postponed to next year as requested by Calviño and President Sánchez himself?

Now what we should prioritize is employment. We have about six million people without work, to whom we must give opportunities to work, especially those who have more difficulty because they have less qualification or because they are young and have no experience. Raising the minimum wage again in these circumstances can have a negative effect on employment at this time.

Finally, tell me, how are you going to recover a sector that you know well, such as bars, hotels and tourism?

I believe that the pandemic is giving its last blows, and after the summer we will have some peace of mind to recover all that we have lost in this time. Tourism is going to recover, but we must take advantage of this very deep crisis to transform the sector. In Madrid we have everything we need to offer a tourist offer of enormous quality and added value, and we have to walk in that direction.

As for the hospitality industry, thanks to the measures that have taken place during the pandemic, it has allowed many companies to survive, and they are in a better situation to grow again because many of them have been transformed. In the medium term we can be optimistic in these three sectors because things have been done well in Madrid.

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