Consensus needed on reforms in Spain: Business group

Milan, May 10 (IANS/EFE) The economic and financial reforms implemented to deal with the financial crisis must have the support of “the majority of the political parties” in Spain, Spanish Business Council for Competitiveness, or CEC, executive director Fernando Casado said.

At a time when some sectors and parties are pushing for a national pact in Spain, consensus would make reforms “much more effective”, Casado told Efe Thursday during the presentation in Milan of the CEC report “Spain: A Land of Opportunities”.

“We believe that we have to continue making reforms. We have to continue transforming the economic framework that we have so that our companies can have a higher level of competitiveness,” Casado, who presented the report with former Spanish secretary of state for the economy Jose Manuel Campa, said.

“To the extent that these reforms have the support of the majority of the political parties, it will be much better, much more desirable, because, obviously, they would be more effective,” the CEC executive director said.

The CEC was created by 17 of Spain’s leading corporations and the Instituto de la Empresa Familiar (Family Business Institute).

Rather than speak of “optimism” about the Spanish economy, one must be a “realist” while not ignoring the positive trends, Casado said, noting that he was forecasting gross domestic product growth of 0.30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 0.80 percent in 2014.

The Spanish economy’s recovery will be driven by its export capacity, Casado, the CEC’s representative at the Italian round of the international rollout of the report, said.

“What we want to change is the perception people have of our country because we believe the perception people have is more negative than the reality. We want to make the strengths of our economy known,” the CEC executive director said.

Campa, for his part, said the financial crisis led to the implementation of a “very important” series of adjustments to the Spanish economy, making the country’s export sector “truly competitive, capable of exporting without problems”.

“Given the adjustments, we have opened a great opportunity for investors to set up production in Spain,” Campa, an economist, said.

Expanded export capacity, however, is not projected to lead to greater job creation in the short-term, Campa said.

The export sector “has a characteristic, which is that it is less intensive in job creation and that is why, in terms of employment, we are seeing that the numbers are still not positive and will take some time to be positive”, Campa said.

–IANS/EFE

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