June 19, 2021

“After the noise, comes the fury”


The public company Tragsa plans to continue increasing its turnover thanks to European funds, after the strong growth caused by the extraordinary orders derived from the pandemic; but its president, Jesús Casas, does not want to “repeat” the experience lived after the one-off expansion that in the previous financial crisis led to the execution of Plan E for economic stimulus and the subsequent cuts that the state firm applied.


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“After the noise, comes the fury,” Casas said this Tuesday, during a colloquium at the Executive Forum, to summarize that he was “somewhat concerned” about the impact that European funds may have on a company that wants to be “as homogeneous as possible. possible ”and“ not to grow in structure ”.

“What I do not want is to repeat the adventure” and that by “2025 or 2027” whoever runs the company at that time will find a situation similar to that of the previous crisis, without “gasoline with which to feed the tank because the car is Too big”.

Then, Tragsa applied a controversial employment regulation file (ERE) not agreed with the social representation “which was probably not necessary” and which “left a lot of pain and a lot of frustration”. “It is convenient to learn from the past so as not to repeat it.”

“Dark times”

After recording losses between 2012 and 2017, in what Casas has described as a “dark time”, Tragsa returned to profits in 2018. In 2020, an exercise “absolutely stained by the effect of Covid” that “is not representative”, exceeded by For the first time since 2010, the 1,000 million euros of turnover and quadrupled its profit to 23.8 million, compared to the 700-800 million turnover that marks its current strategic plan. An upward path that will likely continue in the heat of Next Generation funds, according to Casas.

The manager explained the role of Tragsa, the second public company in number of employees after Correos, with 15,000 employees, as a means of the administration. The state firm, one of the 200 largest companies in Spain, has a fleet of about 5,000 machines and carries out 73% of its activity in rural areas, where 68% of its workforce is concentrated. It is present “in 1,000 of those municipalities that are said to be at risk of disappearance.”

Last year, it carried out some 2,000 orders for the different Administrations. It was hired by the Community of Madrid to adapt more than 200 schools to the Covid protocols in August. In July, he was entrusted with the “truly complicated task of managing the minimum vital income” (IMV), which forced Tragsa to “hire 600 people in a matter of six days” and led to a “string of nonsense, nonsense and lies ”in social networks when it was said that it was a private company that torpedoed aid to harm the Government.

An episode that led the management of the company to perceive that “in general, Spanish society does not know what we do” in a company whose role in emergency management has valued: “The day Filomena falls in Madrid, here are 500 lords of Tragsa; the day the Prestige arrives on the Galician coast, 2,000 lords from Tragsa appear here; and the day the Aznalcóllar dam breaks, 500 Tragsa machines appear ”.

With a presence throughout the national territory and in 14 countries as a result of orders from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Aecid), the Council of Ministers has recently authorized the company to close a ruinous subsidiary that opened in Brazil during the government of Mariano Rajoy, which Casas has cited as an example of the “debatable results” of Tragsa’s attempt to compete with the private sector abroad.

The company, with four decades of existence, has shelved “all those activities that are not strictly related to its corporate purpose”, such as civil works that are foreign, and has “returned to the hard core, which is the public service ”.

Casas has denied that Tragsa competes with the private sector: “We are part of the public administration” and “administrations are free to enter into an external public contract or manage it internally.” “No one is surprised that in the Spanish administration there is a State advocacy” or an Intervention, which the United States and the United Kingdom lack, respectively.

The company, which depends on 74 administrations of different levels, “cannot present itself to tenders” but does what they ask of it without “any obligation to order anything from us at all”; the company “is not there to make money” and charges the rates set by the Administration itself through a specific commission. “Does the National Police violate the free participation of private detectives?” Casas has asked.

The manager has highlighted the “plus of responsibility” that working with public money implies: “I am fully aware that the last cents of my salary are paid by the poorest person in this country and that apart from giving me goose bumps it supposes me a commitment of responsibility with the whole country ”.

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