Antón Costas, President of the Economic and Social Council.
Antón Costas, President of the Economic and Social Council.getty

The widespread practice since the pandemic that the citizen has to make an appointment to carry out any procedure with the public services of the Administration, either due to the lack of personnel or because a large part of the officials telework, can become, if not attacked on time, in a factor that could seriously damage Spain’s international reputation. If until now the international indicators of this type of small-calibre corruption had not appeared in Spain, now there is a real risk of it appearing, with the consequent reputational damage.

The message was launched this Wednesday by the president of the Economic and Social Council (CES), Antón Costas, during the presentation of the report on the socioeconomic and employment situation in Spain. “We must end the black market for dating before it becomes a common practice” and return to face-to-face as soon as possible. This would also put an end to the discomfort that this measure has been causing to the citizen.

Although he did not mention it explicitly, this criticism of Costas is addressed directly to the Social Security offices, immigration, as well as a good number of town halls. From his point of view, digital literacy is still very low, which is another factor that plays against this measure of requesting an appointment online.

Returning to the situation of the Spanish economy, the president of the CES has considered that the Spanish economy is experiencing an “unexpected economic spring”, given that the economic forecasts of last year pointed towards recession, in the final months of 2022.

In fact, most analysts and experts predicted that the Spanish economy could register declines in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the first of 2023. However, they were mere forecasts that did not come true and more than “hitting the brakes, the economy Spanish has lifted its foot off the accelerator” at the beginning of the year.

electoral effects

Asked about the possibility that a change of government that arises from the next general elections on July 23, could cause a cascade of legislative changes in the great reforms, such as labor, pensions launched in these months and years, he considers that these types of reforms will continue. “All those reforms that change the rules of the game and that have had great consensus are going to be sustained over time,” said Costas.

According to the CES report, the main risk facing the Spanish economy is related to the entrenchment of inflation, and the possible greater effects of the second round, together with an additional tightening of financial conditions, which could further deteriorate the situation of homes and businesses. On the other hand, the dynamism shown by employment and the development of the wage agreement may contribute to economic growth in the short term.

Alert on the levels of the working population at risk of poverty and exclusion, which, although it has decreased in recent years, continues at levels above the European average.

Child poverty

Another of the criticisms launched by the president of the CES is the reduced investment that is made in Spain in childhood, a fact whose economic cost can be estimated at a loss of 2.5 points of GDP per year. That is why he called for investing in early childhood for moral reasons and social decency, political and economic reasons.

Using data from the OECD, he said that unfortunately Spain is the second country (the first is Bulgaria) that invests the least in childhood, which translates into job losses, income, productivity and growth.

The problem is of such a caliber that a society like the Spanish one that calls itself “democratic and advanced” does not recognize the real problem that exists of child poverty. “We do not accept it, but there is, and it is not the responsibility of the poor,” said Costas. In the presentation it was stated that the return of investing in children is greater than investing in infrastructure.

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