Maite Gutiérrez, Barcelona, 5 May 2022
The president of Foment del Treball, Josep Sánchez Llibre, this Thursday at the annual meeting of the Cercle d’Economia – Xavier Cervera
The president of Employer’s association Foment del Treball advocates at the Cercle conference for rationalising public spending and eliminating the wealth tax.
The president of Foment del Treball, Josep Sánchez Llibre, warned this Thursday at the annual meeting of the Cercle d’Economia that Catalan businessmen will continue to defend “economic growth in Barcelona and Catalonia” in the face of “populist policies and ideas” that advocate the opposite, de-growth. “We are in favour of the expansion of the airport, the mobility of the car, commerce and the hotel and catering industry; we will continue to defend growth”, Sánchez Llibre highlighted during a round table debate on the challenges facing the Spanish economy. The dialogue, moderated by Miguel Trias, member of the Cercle’s Board of Directors, also included José Luis Bonet, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, José Galíndez Zubiría, President of the Basque Businessmen’s Circle, and Manuel Pérez-Sala, President of the Businessmen’s Circle.
He also referred to the words of the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, during the inauguration of the conference yesterday. “She described initiatives in favour of economic growth as naïve and childish,” continued Sánchez Llibre. “Perhaps so, but they are also democratic and consensual in the face of authoritarian policies”, he concluded. An approach supported by Miguel Trias, who stated that supporting policies of economic de-growth is “suicide” because, in his opinion, they harm those most in need, “who in theory are the ones defended by those who advocate them”.
New measures to tackle the economic situation
Lower personal income tax to compensate for inflation
The president of Foment also defended a “competitive fiscal ecosystem”, with “business-friendly” governments, as opposed to the “devouring capacity” to increase taxes of the central and regional governments. In this sense, Sánchez Llibre once again called for the abolition of wealth tax, “not a downward harmonisation as proposed by Pere Aragonès”, President of Catalan Government, as it is a “confiscatory” tax.
Other measures that would help the economy at a time marked by inflation and the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Sánchez Llibre, would be to “deflate personal income tax”, so that individuals and companies can recover part of what they lose due to the rise in prices. “The government has taken in 33,000 million euros in the first quarter due to inflation,” he commented. The rationalisation of public spending and the reduction of inefficiencies would also have a positive impact on the Spanish economy, insisted the president of the employers’ association Foment.
Help for SMEs to access Next Generation funds
José Luis Bonet has focused on the distribution of Next Generation funds, and has asked that small and medium-sized companies, which have more difficulties in accessing and channelling this aid, should not be forgotten. Despite the inflationary context and the strangulation of supply chains, Bonet described himself as “optimistic”, as, in his opinion, these are difficulties that can be overcome. The economic data that are known are positive, he insisted, referring to the employment data published yesterday. As for the growth of the Spanish economy, he stressed that it is a “slowdown”, not a recession. “We will grow at a slower rate, but we will grow”.
For his part, José Galíndez pointed to the fall in births as one of the main challenges facing society. “We are concerned about the demographic challenge, we do not want to remain insignificant”, he said. The Basque business representative also called for less regulation and bureaucracy for companies and a new tax system.
Finally, Manuel Pérez-Sala pointed out that, after the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, a new geopolitical order is emerging in which Spain “has to think about if it wants to emerge from irrelevance”. In this sense, he regretted that the government “is not promoting” the necessary structural reforms with the Next Generation funds. “We need another labour reform, a pension reform and what we are hearing about the next tax reform is not going in the right direction either,” he concluded.