Antonio Garamendi, during a ceremony on September 17 in Madrid.Eduardo Parra / Europa Press
The president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), Antonio Garamendi, sees it as “difficult” to reach an agreement on a new extension of the ERTE before the Council of Ministers next Tuesday, because “it is not very serious” that the Government “Call or submit the papers two days ago”, when it is “a very important issue for thousands of companies.” “We are talking about 270,000 jobs,” he recalled.
Garamendi took part this Friday on the campus of the University of Deusto in San Sebastián in the Meeting ‘The opportunities of the post-covid Spanish economy’, organized by this university center in collaboration with BBVA. In addition to Garamendi, the forum was attended by the president of Deusto Alumni, Agustín Garmendia, the northern territorial director of BBVA, Carlos Gorria, and Cristina Iturrioz, professor and researcher at Deusto Business School, who moderated the debate.
The president of the CEOE has referred in his speech to the new extension of the ERTE, which has been valued by the “protection” they have meant for workers. In this sense, he has defended that without the ERTE, many companies would have closed and there would be more than 3.5 million new unemployed. Garamendi has pointed out that “it has not been easy” to sign the ERTEs and, in the face of the negotiation of the new extension, he has pointed out that the CEOE does not understand the situation “very well”. “It is a very important issue for thousands of companies, we are talking about 270,000 jobs, and it is not very serious that we are called or the papers presented two days ago, between now and next Tuesday we have to negotiate this,” he said. In addition, he has criticized that this past Thursday the Ministry of Social Security did not appear at the table and has wondered what would have happened if the CEOE had not been presented.
In this context, he sees it as “difficult” to reach an agreement before Tuesday on the ERTE, which, he has defended, “must be until December.” “We have gone from extension to extension, now they tell us that it is not an extension, that companies have to redo the issues on day 1, we could have been told a month ago,” he defended. In addition, he has criticized the “impressive reduction in exemptions” in the financing of worker training for companies, of up to 50% for large companies.
On the other hand, he has opined that the current political moment is “very tense” when large political agreements are “very necessary” that give “tranquility and stability”, more at a time when growth of the Spanish economy is expected from in around 5.5% for this year, which means that “we are growing and that is good, but not at pre-crisis levels and it will be difficult for us to get there.” In his speech, he indicated that it is “very important” in this country to “listen to us and reach agreements.” “Everything that is agreements always go much further than royal decrees, that deep down we are all quite bored of them,” he added.
Garamendi has also referred to the “deficit problem.” Thus he recalled that “all that social shield, which was necessary to implement” to face the Covid-19 pandemic, but which, in his opinion, “has to be temporary”, has caused a “deficit of the order of 8%, with economic growth of 5.5%, with a hole of 80,000 or 90,000 million euros per year in our public accounts ”. In this regard, he pointed out that companies should forget that idea that “the State is going to give us everything” and control their indebtedness, while warning that the European Central Bank has already warned that “by 2023 it will you have to go to the exam ”and, therefore,“ you have to start doing your homework and working from a serious economic orthodoxy, because if not, we are going to have problems ”.
Similarly, he stressed that “one of the most important levers in the recovery is investment” and in Spain there is “a problem” with this. “We must take care of investors and give confidence to the country and it is not being done,” he said, while defending as “fundamental” “stability in the legal norm and regulation.”
On the other hand, he has also alluded to taxation and recalled that in Spain if company taxes are added to social contributions, it is “well above Europe”, and the shadow economy, which is 13% in Europe , in Spain it is 24%, so “people have to pay their taxes because they will have to make that social shield and work for a much more egalitarian society.”
Garamendi has also valued “social peace” and has assured that they are willing to sit down to negotiate issues such as the labor “counter-reform”, but taking into account the “flexibility” of companies. In this regard, he recalled that “complicated agreements” have been achieved by approving a Telework Law, or the Law of riders. In addition, he has argued that these agreements must be given in a “bipartisan table with a sectoral or company agreement” and without “coming from outside to entangle”, while reminding that “the laws do not create employment.”