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Vice President Junqueras's parallel world

The vice-president, who denied that there was a flight of companies, argues that the companies ' march does not affect the economy and at the same time predict that they will return

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Vice President Junqueras's parallel world

"We shall see." Predictions of this kind have been done or times and have never happened before. Oriol Junqueras, economic vice-president of Catalan executive, responded on 5th day to possible march of Banco Sabadell. I said it minutes after entity communicated to National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) that this afternoon its council was going to decide its transfer. Just five hours later, that reality was consummated: Sabadell not only took its headquarters, but also its fiscal domicile to Alicante. Since n, despite massive exit of signatures, Junqueras's discourse has been to minimize flight of companies, to warn that y will return when independence is consumed and to blame central government for such departures.

Business movements had already started in September, when a multitude of multinationals began to stop investing and prepare ir departure depending on what happened from 1 October. Some companies did not wait for referendum to take headquarters to Madrid, as investment manager GVC Gaesco. After referendum, activity in law firms and consultations was multiplied, and several companies decided to activate Plan B: to take ir social and fiscal domicile outside of Catalonia. When that leak had already started, Junqueras denied major. "There will be No business flight," he said a few hours before Ibex 35 banks and companies approved ir transfer and ors announced that y had that option on table.

Outside warnings

The businessman tried to persuade government to take brake. It was done by economic circle, in a private meeting with President Carles Puigdemont two days before his appearance before Parlament, but also those closest to sovereignty. Following his speech, he followed trail of companies that sought protection of ir clients and shareholders outside Catalonia. Transfers are not only tightened to financial sector or IBEX. Small and medium sized companies, some 1,300 as patronal Pimec admitted, followed steps of large ones. The warnings also came from outside: International Monetary Fund, rating agencies and international investors. According to a report by public relations consultancy Kreab, 55% of international investors "will not take into account Catalonia as an investment destination".

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Junqueras accepted situation before cascade of marches, but he removed iron. "The movement of a social headquarters has no impact on productive reality of companies," said vice-president, who bypassed that transfers also affect company's fiscal domicile. And that means march of executive cadres. In government, account was imposed that companies were pressed by central administration and that y "would return". But some, as a planet, announced that decision taken was "definitive."

All se ideas were reflected in document drawn up by Department of Junqueras that reached table of investors and consultants. He realized good data of growth, foreign investment or exports. But all before date of referendum. The report concluded that since companies knew " will of Catalonia to become a state," procés was not going to affect economy. But several sources explain that investors were very concerned about second part of document, which was considered "unlikely" that Catalonia would be outside EU and announced intention of creating a bank of Catalonia. Junqueras planned on Friday to meet with multinationals, but meeting was suspended.

In face of companies and deterioration of economy, member of PSC Alícia Romero called on 17 appearance of Junqueras in Parlament, without this has yet occurred. Last Friday, Socialists announced that y would try to have vice-president come to Business Commission, at whose table independence bloc is in a minority, with councillor Santi Vila. The latter, y explain sources of patronal, is dealing with situation and meeting with Catalan economic agents. "He is aware of severity of everything that is happening, but I fear that president does not hear enough," explains sources of Catalan patron.

The role of Vila

When Junqueras ruled out a flight of companies, Vila decided to create a crisis cabinet that periodically analyses all indicators of situation and caters to employers, guilds or unions. Traders have come to that cabinet, for example, to ask Government to prevent mobilizations from occurring on working days. According to sources of Catalan executive, reality that reaches that organ is different from one that sees Junqueras. "The numbers are not ones that central government makes known, but we do see falls of activity, as in tourism," y argue se sources, which confirm concern of Vila. "Logical, it's in day to day," y add.

Vila rejected on Friday mobilization promoted by Cultural Òmnium, which consisted in calling citizens to withdraw cash from cashiers. Junqueras, on or hand, did not condemn initiative of that entity, whose spokesman, Marcel Mauri, was signed in September as special Adviser to Vice-President. "As we respect freedom of business, we do same with consumer," settled Junqueras in an interview at Catalunya Radio.

The previous day, Junqueras had participated in an act of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. Along with him, was Albert Martínez Cambra, CEO of Agbar, who has moved his headquarters to Madrid. For first time, Junqueras admitted that se marches did not "satisfy" him, but recalled that "260,000 companies have decided to stay". This fact has been integrated into government's discourse. Although, again, bypassed that in this figure are included autonomous, that large companies account for almost 40% of Catalan GDP and that only one hundred companies concentrate half of exports. So far this month, 1,300 companies are already gone.


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