A large part of the leadership of the Spanish business community met this Wednesday in Madrid at the annual General Assembly of the largest employers' association in the country, CEOE. His president, Antonio Garamendi, began his speech by highlighting the "concern" of companies about the economic situation of soaring inflation, which he has warned is no longer "temporary." Subsequently, his intervention was full of messages to the coalition government, with two ideas that stood out above the rest: the rejection of the increase in taxes on energy companies that is being discussed within the government and the request of employers for more adjustments in pensions, through a “new sustainability factor”.
Pros and cons of the two legal channels that divide the Government to raise taxes on electricity companies
Opposition to “à la carte” taxes, that is, to energy companies that the Government is studying at the moment, have captured the focus of much of Antonio Garamendi's words.
This is a key moment, since The Executive intends to approve its next anti-crisis plan this Saturday and the debate on various measures is still open. In United We can demand that the PSOE include an increase in taxation for electricity companies. The Socialists, the majority force in the Executive, agree to take measures in this regard, but for the time being the parties differ in how and when.
Today the electricity companies, "be careful" with who will be tomorrow
With a quote from the German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, the leader of the businessmen has cried out against this extraordinary increase in taxes on electricity companies due to their increased profits, calling for the unity of all companies and sectors.
“Be careful with these ads like that. There is talk of increases of up to 10% of the Corporation Tax”, Garamendi warned. “Be careful, that it does not seem to us that one sector pays and that another does not pay. Remember what he said back in the day [Bertolt Brecht]: 'First the Jews, then there were the communists and then it was my turn”. [José Antonio Garamendi ha cometido el error común de atribuir a Bertolt Brecht estas palabras, cuando realmente pertenecen a un sermón del pastor luterano alemán Martin Niemöller].
“Be careful, because I believe that we all need each other and the impulse of the big company is necessary for the medium-sized company to work and for the small one to activate”, Garamendi said. The president of the employers' association has stressed that "an indiscriminate rise in taxes, especially to the business world, would be a real mistake."
“I think the rules on the playing field, like in soccer, are one. You can't change them and say one day I'll charge you and the day after tomorrow I won't. Just yesterday the energy sector fell 4,000 million on the stock market. Let's be careful”, the Basque businessman has claimed.
New “sustainability factor” for pensions
Another of the most repeated issues by the leader of Spanish businessmen has pointed to pensions. The employers' association has insisted in its big annual appointment to question the reform of the system that the Government is carrying out, with Minister José Luis Escrivá at the head. The closing of this is pending, with a second block of changes that must be approved this year and that has a complex context, with the right and the bosses distancing themselves from the consensus.
Antonio Garamendi has demanded that the reform must include more adjustments, through a new "sustainability factor". The CEOE did not support the intergenerational equity mechanism (MEI), that the Ministry of Social Security agreed only with the unions to replace the previous PB sustainability factor. The Government of Mariano Rajoy delayed this measure and never applied it, amid strong social and political opposition to his unilateral reform of 2013.
The president of CEOE has insisted that the businessmen gave their approval to the recommendation of the Toledo Pact to link pensions to the CPI again because the Executive "committed" that this sustainability factor would be maintained "under another name", a promise that in the opinion of the employers has not been fulfilled with the MEI.
“The sustainability factor has not been adequately solved, we think that is where the key is for us to fix the future of all. I don't want to get into a political game, what I want is for there to be pensions," Garamendi said.
The employer's leader has stressed that businessmen "follow" what the Bank of Spain says, in a veiled reference to the Government's criticism of the regulator for its recommendations on pensions. Garamendi has also defended the "concern" of companies about the current economic situation of high inflation, before which he has demanded that wages not be linked to prices and that the Government begin to reduce the deficit and public debt. "This is no longer conjunctural", he has highlighted about inflation. "We have to work very seriously."