“Ferrovial’s decision causes us perplexity in substance and in form”


In the midst of a hectic week in Congress, which has given the green light by consensus to the Securities Markets Bill and Investment Services, and in which the future Financial Client Authority has passed its first exam, Gonzalo García Andrés received ‘La Información’ at the headquarters of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation. Inflation for February -of which the final data will be made public this Tuesday-, the economic outlook, the Next Generation Funds, banking and the remuneration of deposits or the path of fiscal consolidation are the protagonists of a conversation in which the echoes of the announced change of headquarters of railway. The Secretary of State for the Economy stresses that the explanations given by the multinational to justify its departure to the Netherlands generate “serious doubts” in Castellana 162.

In the analysis of the operation -which is important because the group operates in numerous sectors, some of which are very important- “These arguments do not seem very convincing to us”, says García Andrés. At the Ministry, the movement of the company in which the Del Pino family is the largest shareholder draws attention at a time when large foreign companies have announced important investments in the country (Volkswagen, Microsoft, Ford, BP…) In the opinion of the ‘number two’ of Economic Affairs, the fact that companies remain in Spain, operate and have their domicile here is an asset for their international activity. “There are many ways to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the global market, the presence in different markets… without losing your roots (…) Hence the perplexity regarding the decision both in substance and in form“, he maintains.

“There are so many ways to take advantage of global market opportunities without losing your roots”

Gonzalo García Andrés recalls that the balance of payments data has closed 2022 with record export revenues, 352,000 million euros (118,000 million more than in 2019, before the Covid outbreak). “This Government and the previous ones have made a clear effort so that companies from Spain can take advantage of all the opportunities of the global market and the results are in sight, also from the companies’ own efforts”, he adds. Ferrovial to explain the transfer of its headquarters- opened last week to study adjustments that improve the connection with Wall Street.

“We are always looking at ways to improve regulation. In this case, It is not that Ferrovial has not raised it, that it has notis that no one else has ever raised this question and in the analysis we have carried out we have not detected that there are elements that make listing in Spain an obstacle with the apparent objective of ending up listing in the US”, adds the Secretary of State, which affects the willingness of the Government to consider improvements and reforms in the regulatory framework.In fact, it considers that the draft Law on Securities Markets it would have been a “phenomenal opportunity to do it”if it had actually been detected that this element of disadvantage exists.

Rising interest rates and the remuneration of deposits

Just a few days before a new meeting of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, which is expected to increase official rates by another 50 basis points, and when asked about the reluctance of entities to raise the remuneration of deposits, García Andrés stresses that it will be the competition that has to work. There are assets that adapt more quickly to changes in financing conditions, such as Treasury bills, there are savings products that are also doing so (such as insurance or funds) and bank liabilities will also have to adapt. “That process is taking place and the competition has to make it so”he emphasizes.

The Secretary of State for the Economy assures that the strong demand for Spanish debt in the auctions that the Treasury has been holding so far this year “is a very powerful sign of how foreign investors see the Spanish economy” and assures that in the Ministry have good prospects for upcoming calls. Retail demand has been a new element that has brought with it the rise in interest rates. This increase in financing costs has not, for the moment, caused an increase in delinquency in banks (neither in mortgages nor in business). The data that the Bank of Spain has made public to date “show that the quality of credit continues to be good and that is consistent with the economic situation, employment…”, he explains.

“The data for January and February will give way to a moderation, first, and a decrease in food later”

In this area, the bill for the Financial Client Defense Authority, which is being processed in Parliament, or the extension of the code of good practices for clients with problems in dealing with their mortgages due to Euribor rise or for those at risk of vulnerability are, in his opinion, very important “to reinforce customer confidence and protection” in an environment charged with uncertainty, among other things, due to high inflation. The increase in prices picked up again in January and February, after easing five points from the peak reached in July, and Gonzalo García Andrés explains that “from now on there will be volatility linked to base effects and the impacts we saw last year, but the downward trend will continue”, in line with the Government’s forecasts for the end of the year.

In the case of the core, he emphasizes that the drop in energy -which has already had an impact on general inflation- has to be reflected in the prices of processed foods, but also in those of services and non-industrial goods. energetic. “First the general one reached the peak, now the underlying one has to do it”, apostille. The Executive is waiting to see the data for February (the Statistical preview placed the annual CPI rate at 6.1%) before deciding whether or not to adopt additional measures to the reduction of VAT on food… “The expectation is that the data for January and February are giving way to a moderation, first, and to a more continuous decline in food prices later,” he details this newspaper. At the moment, the CNMC is preparing a report to see how competition affects the transfer of the VAT reduction.

The deficit will drop from 3% in Spain in 2025, a year earlier

Regarding the rest of the macroeconomic forecasts, García Andrés points to a moderation of public consumption, which will contribute less to GDP, and a consolidation of the employment data which, both at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, show positive signs in his opinion. Regarding the recovery of fiscal rules -which the EU had suspended for member states since the pandemic- he recalls that in the Stability Program submitted to the Commission, the Government already contemplated for the deficit to fall below 3% from 2025 (Brussels has set that target for 2026.) In addition, she points out that the debate on the reform project presented by Ursula von der Leyen “advances in the right direction” and is, in addition, “consistent” with the fiscal policy that Spain has been proposing.

Asked how the country will carry out this adjustment, García de Andrés stressed that the withdrawal of some extraordinary measures approved to tackle the pandemic or the inflationary crisis -such as the fuel discount- has already taken place and now Spain has to “keep advancing on the path of growthto broaden the bases of both employment and contribution”, as well as improve the quality of spending and influence the investment effort, as requested by the European Commission. The Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, through the use of funds Next Generation, seeks to increase productivity and, therefore, wages, which “will also contribute to fiscal sustainability,” he points out.

The second part of the pension reform, key for Spain to receive the next disbursement of funds, will allow “compliance with commitments.” “I think it is very important to give pensioners peace of mind and certainty,” adds Gonzalo García Andrés. In relation to another of the aspects that the Committee of MEPs put on the table during its recent visit to Spain, the need to that the State and autonomies deepen “co-governance” For a correct deployment of the funds, the Secretary of State emphasizes that the relationship with them is very intense within this shared effort, and that “there is a follow-up of the execution, of the difficulties, of who is going faster or more slowly”. Finally, and after the media noise that preceded the aforementioned visit, García Andrés considers that its outcome and conclusions were positive, and that the instruments and control systems are in place in our country, including those “for the prevention of the conflict of interest, which are the most advanced that any country has with respect to the execution of the plan”, ditch.

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