Employers more optimistic, but very cautious

 The organizations see incipient signs of improvement, but they are prudent when assessing 2014 due to doubts about the intensity of the recovery and the fragility of the scenario

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During these six years of crisis one of the things that have been left behind is credibility in the forecasts of the official organisms. The constant revisions – almost always negative – have questioned his kindness. Hence, in complex moments for analysts such as those present, in which the year of inflection is faced, it is necessary to collect the opinion of businessmen -based basically on their sense of smell- to draw a qualitative scenario of what the 2014. Go ahead that the general idea that plans on organizations is that we are – finally! – at the door of a year of incipient recovery, whose main questions are focused on its intensity and the possible creation of employment. 

Three positive points of view lead us to believe that we are on the right track: the type of work that is being entrusted to the consultancies, the opinion of the purchasing managers and that of the personnel directors. Let’s see. “For four years, customers have been asking us about restructuring and cost cutting, and now we are seeing a change in trend, yesterday’s efficiency plans have become strategic plans”, they say in the ACEC (Associació Catalana d’Empreses Consultants), directed by Fernando Iglesia. It’s a good start. The first step. Let’s go to the second one. “Purchasing managers of Spanish companies have stated in their recent annual meeting that in 2014 they will acquire more products from their suppliers, and this is just a sign that they expect a better exercise,” says Maribel Forcada, president of Aerce Catalunya . We continue well. Let’s go for the third one. “The new year seems to bring us a progressive decrease in personnel adjustment policies in organizations,” says Ricard Alfaro, president of Aedipe Catalunya (Associació de Direcció de Recursos Humans), who appeals to recover the culture of the effort. For his part, the president of Asempleo (association of employment agencies), Andreu Cruañas, qualifies that “2014 will be timidly positive in terms of employment, but we will have to do very well the duties to refloat the labor market.”

So, we will make strategic plans, we will buy more and we will stop the bleeding in the templates. From here, the global vision is tinged with an incipient optimism. The truth is that we will enter 2014 in better circumstances than in the present. Recall that the transit of the economy to 2013 was done at a rate of 3% negative, while the current will be at 0.5% positive, taking inter-quarterly annualized GDP rates.


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In any case, following the correction of imbalances, a more active role of banks to lend money and continue with energy, administrative, financial and fiscal reforms to lay solid foundations for recovery are common places in business requests. Joaquim Gay de Montellà, president of Foment del Treball, does not forget the importance of family consumption, always in an environment of wage moderation. “In order to favor internal consumption, effective measures can be applied, such as the elimination of the temporary increase in the special tax on Personal Income Tax and the property tax for 2015.” SMEs lament the heavy fiscal pressure they suffer. “We are touched by the increase in taxes and public prices, but despite this, we started 2014 with more encouragement and we are sure that we will be increasingly competitive,” says Josep González, president of Pimec.

The mood ventures as crucial and seems to improve. Antoni Abad, president of Cecot, summarizes his position as a positive rebellion, which “incorporates a less disheartening and more combative vision for next year.” Both González and Abad cite more positive microeconomic indicators as a basic part of the change that their affiliates notice, because the years of crisis have not passed in vain for many companies. It is ratified by the president of FemCat, Miquel Martí, for whom the main reason for the incipient optimism that is breathed is that “Catalan companies have been gaining efficiency and productivity for a few years now, and we believe that we are at the beginning of a sustainable recovery and creator of employment “.

In terms of demand, “Catalan businessmen are more optimistic about the future of their sales, both abroad and in the domestic market.” I want to highlight the improvement in the industry’s outlook, which foresees the recovery of growth in its turnover for 2014, “says Miquel Valls, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona. Exports have saved many companies from the hecatomb. Today they have discovered new markets and widened their horizons. Without a doubt, they are the ones that have best weathered these years of crisis and are better prepared to leave the tunnel. Joan Tristany, CEO of Amec, calls on companies to diversify outside the EU. “The results will be good for 2014. We see good opportunities abroad, although prospective, strategy and good operational management are required”.

The textile is one of the sectors that owes its recovery to exports. “They will grow 15% in 2013,” says the president of Texfor, Manu Díaz, who does not hesitate to criticize the attitude of the Government. “We do not see a single measure promoted by the Executive for the textile sector and its SMEs.” Despite this, “a small sector, but with more strength thanks to its experience, will compete in 2014 in a global market, focusing efforts in countries where our know-how is valued”.

Meanwhile, tourism is expected to continue to play a leading role. For the president of Gremi d’Hotels de Barcelona, ​​Jordi Clos, the important thing is that “in Barcelona we have made a strong investment in the improvement and adaptation of the establishments, which have led the city to consolidate itself as one of the best in the world. ” Anyway, see the projection for 2014 conditioned by some latent problems in the city, such as the proliferation of illegal tourist flats. “You have to solve it,” sentence. Tourism has also given a boost to trade in 2013. “It has been key to improving sales, we see domestic demand still very weak, because we are moving in a context of fragility. of the cases, it will be moderate “, comments Elisabet Vilalta, general director of Comertia.

Who will not raise his head is still the construction. The president of the Official Chamber of Contractistes d’Obres de Catalunya, Francesc Boixadós, describes the situation of the “desperate” sector. Remember that from 2007 until today the tender for public works in Catalonia has fallen by 85%. And warns that “if the sector sinks even more, until it is residual, the disappearance of the Catalan unemployment figure will not be possible in this decade, let’s keep this in mind for 2014”.

In short, you breathe a different air, but that the ordinary citizen will not notice yet in his pocket. This will be the next step …