Although the shadow of inflation continues to hang over the economy of Spain and Europe, one of the keys to maintaining optimism is the growth of companies and becoming more competitive.
The return of fiscal rules in 2024, the slowdown in economic activity in Spain and the uncertain environment on a global scale provide many challenges in the coming months. “We are concerned about inflation and, in particular, the underlying inflation of 6.1% that has entered the supply chain of all companies,” said Rocío Albert López-Ibor, Minister of Economy, Finance and Community Work. in Madrid, in the latest edition of the Business Perspectives Forum meeting, organized by EXPANSIÓN in collaboration with Banco Santander.
The advisor, who assumed the position held by Javier Fernández-Lasquetty in June, highlighted the impact of this macroeconomic scenario on the competitiveness of companies.
For this reason, Rocío Albert emphasized that from the regional government “we are at the service of those who create wealth and jobs, and our job is to find mechanisms to do this.” Among them, he mentioned public assistance to make it easier for companies to internationalize and change. As the advisor added, Madrid’s economy grew by 0.8% in the second quarter of 2023 and the Community received 63.2% of all foreign investments in Spain in the first half of 2023, half of which came from the United States.
“The major challenges ahead are competitiveness and growth,” said Ángel Rivera, CEO of Santander Spain, who conducted a diagnosis of the main problems affecting the economy of Spain and Europe. In addition to the war in Ukraine, he emphasized the importance of the energy situation, industrialization and, above all, inflation.
Given this context, Rivera emphasized that “the only way we have as a country is to support companies, which are the ones that create wealth, and their growth.” Mobilizing private investment and giving companies the confidence and tools is essential for them to grow and innovate. Based on its positioning as “the business bank”, the CEO of Santander Spain explained that “we must be an active part of this change” by accompanying companies in their different needs. Despite everything, Ángel Rivera is optimistic and adds that “2023 will be a year of good business results.”
The entity seeks a positive social impact through commitments such as innovation and education. For example, the Santander Universities initiative led it to allocate more than 2.2 billion euros to higher education with scholarships, continuous training and support for more than one million students in 25 different countries. On the other hand, the bank announced a week ago its alliance with Inveready to launch a fund of 100 million euros aimed at start-ups.
Productivity and size
In the section on pending matters, Miguel Garrido, president of the employers’ association of Madrid CEIM, thinks that “the big challenge for the Spanish economy is productivity: we need to improve the productivity of our economy and in our companies.” Also, he added that companies should remember the importance of profit. Garrido warned about the risks of the tendency towards excessive regulation: “The development of regulation in all Administrations has gone crazy. Now the public invades the private space and completely limits the capacity to act.”
Ángel Asensio, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Madrid, agreed by asking that “it will never be regulated by the return of the market: it is necessary to rely on the affected party, the companies.” In addition, Asensio emphasized increasing the average size of companies. The president of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce clarified that “we must look for that inorganic growth that will give size and make companies competitive,” along with other factors such as internationalization, training, deregulation and lowering pressure. tax and innovation.
In any case, Alberto Delgado, director of the territory of Banco Santander in Madrid, emphasized that “our economy shows a high level of resistance and we see reasons for optimism, such as the recovery of sectors that have fallen into the pandemic , like tourism.” Delgado concluded that “Spanish banks are in an ideal position to be an important part of the recovery by helping companies.”
The Community of Madrid, against high tax pressure
“This is not the time for the Administration to stand, but to create an environment of security and trust, but currently the Spanish Government is not very helpful in terms of fiscal pressure,” stated Rocío Albert López-Ibor, advisor of Economy, Finance and Community Work in Madrid, during the conference organized by EXPANSIÓN and Banco Santander. In this sense, he referred to the increase in salary contributions, the bank tax and the tax on large wealth, which he described as “unfair, uneconomic and negative for the Spanish economy.” Rocío Albert warned that Madrid contributed 90% of the 623 million euros collected: “This is much less than expected and can only scare the necessary investments for Spain and Madrid, slowing down the activity in the economy.” The Díaz Ayuso Executive has already presented a controversial administrative appeal before the National Court.