Against economic fatalism
The way out of the economic crisis does not only depend on the success of vaccination against covid-19. There are other factors to take into account, the main but not only one being European aid. This Wednesday the State has announced a new aid package of €11bn aimed in particular at the hospitality industry, tourism, small businesses and SMEs and the self-employed. Welcome, but let's see how fast they are distributed and where they end up. For starters, it has not yet been clarified whether a part will be direct aid, a relevant detail. Unlike other countries, Spain so far has not given any: it has chosen to reduce some taxes and contributions, offer moratoriums, give guarantees and, above all, assume the cost of furlough. A set of measures that have barely stopped the blow. In fact, according to the European Central Bank Spain has devoted a smaller percentage of GDP (1.3%) to combat the economic crisis with direct aid than any other eurozone country.
In any case, given the critical situation in which we find ourselves, there is not a cent to spare. Nor is there a minute to lose in getting the new Government of the Generalitat up and running: every day that passes is a day less to take the initiative and make decisions that open the way to a recovery. Only in this way, taking the bull by the horns, will it be possible to short-circuit the inertia of a certain fatalism that is beginning to settle in the atmosphere: the pandemic is dragging on, companies are in it up to their necks, workers on furlough are beginning to think that when the time comes they will no longer return to jobs, tourists could stay home for another summer... This state of mind, which unfortunately responds to real signs, is nevertheless lethal. As is well known, the economy has a lot to do with collective psychology, with expectations. And these, in turn, are directly related to the confidence that the various agents (companies, administration, trade unions, experts, consumers, workers) and the various sectors (industry, tourism, services, leisure...) have in the gears of the system or, to be more specific, in the country's ability to pull itself out of the hole. Political leadership and solvency are key.
So, better late than never. The €11bn are absolutely necessary and the more there is for direct aid, the better. Both in view of this new announcement and of the even more decisive process of attracting and distributing European funds with solvent projects, the Generalitat must take positions as soon as possible, establishing a direct dialogue with Madrid and Brussels, and working with the affected sectors in defence of the Catalan economy, which has its own specificities and potential. There is the tourism sector, of course, but also areas to promote such as technology and biomedicine, as well as other traditional sectors (automobile, construction), without forgetting research and the cultural industry, among others. And all this taking into account the network of SMEs and self-employed workers. In the midst of the pandemic, against fatalism and economic pessimism, the solution is leadership based on clear, well-explained and well-executed ideas and actions, something that has been lacking so far both in Madrid and Barcelona.