Government rules out incentives to attract firms back to Catalonia
Business minister refuses to “reward” companies that changed legal headquarters during the political crisis and says “objective data” show health of Catalan economy
The new Catalan business minister has ruled out offering incentives to attract back those companies that moved their corporate HQs out of Catalonia during the height of the political conflict over independence. "The last thing we all need is to reward the companies that decided to leave," said minister Àngels Chacón at a meeting with Pimec, the association that represents small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Banks such as Sabadell or CaixaBank moved their legal headquarters out of Catalonia following a royal decree by the Spanish government that facilitated the change. However, no company moved production or cut jobs during that period.
Chacón also criticized those sources portraying Catalonia as a “synonym of instability,” which she said merely “damages the business environment,” when “objective data” show that “the Catalan economy is evolving positively.” As an example, the minister pointed to international investment in Catalonia: “When foreign companies opt to invest in our territory, we must be doing something right,” she said, referring to recent major investment from multinational firms like Siemens, Facebook, Nestlé, Elis and Satellogic.
According to Chacón, the government’s response to the “alarmist” readings of the health of the Catalan economy will be “a strategy clearly aimed at maintaining the productive business environment.” As for those companies that decided to leave Catalonia, the minister added that providing financial incentives for them to return would not be fair on “the rest of the companies that decided to remain in Catalonia.” Any firm wishing to return will receive the same consideration as any other company that wants to set up in the country, she said.
Asked about comments this week from Catalonia’s main business association, Foment del Treball, that the country had lost its leadership in comparison with other communities in Spain, Chacón insisted that the “indicators suggest the opposite.” The head of Pimec, Josep González, agreed: “We do not understand this talk of the weakness of the Catalan economy,” he said. Insisting that Foment del Treball’s view “does not reflect the reality,” the Pimec head concluded that “this way of expressing things merely causes us concern.”