Entrepreneur and professional, deeply aware of the reality of the region, the general secretary of the Circle of Entrepreneurs and Professionals of the South of Tenerife calls for dialogue and agreements between the administrations and private initiative to develop the actions that the South demands and requires, which does not receives the consideration required by the fact of being the engine of the insular economy, he maintains.
Entrepreneurs and professionals from the south of Tenerife are working on a roadmap on the projects necessary for the development of the island. What drives the CEST to make this assessment and these proposals?
We have been working for many months with the social, economic and political actors to carry out this proposal, which is the result of many conversations from different points of view. In the pandemic, many of the problems that the south of Tenerife had been suffering for decades became visible. That break, that moment in which the economy and society were hanging by a thread, helped us to evaluate and realize that there were many things to do. The South is the main economic engine of Tenerife, where most of the investments are concentrated, generates income for the families of the Island and cannot continue with deficiencies in key issues for development, such as training, health or infrastructure . We decided to get down to work, we met with administrations and representatives of various sectors. Not only did we have to show the problems we were facing, but we had to propose solutions and express, in a clear way, the position of an important part of business and society in the South. We have always tried to take into account all the realities that coexist in the region: the particularities of each municipality, those of each productive sector and the demands of citizens. The result is this document, which we call Eight Steps to the Future of the South.
Is there a consensus with the administrations?
At CEST, we are convinced that only through consensus between the public and private sectors will we achieve the progress that the south of Tenerife requires to take advantage of the economic potential and job creation that we are capable of promoting. Joint work is the key that will open the door to progress. For this reason, we want the document to be a faithful reflection of the collaboration of all the agents involved. We know that it is an ambitious goal, but we have no doubt that it is the path we must follow.
How could the deficiencies of public services in the region be solved?
The first step is to recognize the needs of the region, which are for the most part perfectly diagnosed by the Administration. For example, despite having a pioneering private sector in its tourism proposals, there are many public infrastructures that we must improve to offer a good experience to visitors and live up to the investment effort made by the private sector. The same goes for issues that affect people who live in the South, even the most everyday ones. Several schools are needed that can serve children and young people in the municipalities. It is the same with the Hospital, which we still do not know when it will be able to include all the necessary services. We hope that this document is the first step, or the first eight, for administrations to adapt public services to the reality of the South. The needs of the resident population, which has grown tremendously in recent years, makes the commitment to our region unavoidable. The solution is to invest, because every euro invested here will produce a multiplier effect on the economy of Tenerife.
What is the solution to the collapse of infrastructures?
This collapse arises from the imbalance between the growth of the South, its population and its economy and the immobility in terms of infrastructures, which remain obsolete and saturated. Not only is it necessary for the comfort and safety of all of us who use them, but it has been shown that they have a direct economic return for the population. We have seen, during the last years, an excessive discussion of the projects. In the end, some small groups dedicate themselves to making noise around them, capturing media attention and generating noise that is not even proportional to their representativeness. And so the South is running out of necessary infrastructure, which can improve the lives of those who live throughout the Island, as well as tourists. We must flee from this excess of discussion and debate around every decision that is made to make the South a more prosperous place. The technical reports are the ones that have to establish the suitability of each project. Issues such as sustainability or care for the environment are not at odds with progress, but totally stubborn positions are often established, lacking the least bit of knowledge. At this point, the competent administrations have an exact diagnosis and a list of projects to solve the mobility problems suffered by the South. The historical slowness for its implementation is not acceptable.
You denounce the brake on investments due to excessive regulations and taxation. What path should the Canary Islands take to be a privileged environment for local and foreign investment?
Unfortunately, we are often aware of the paralysis of projects that would be key to the recovery of our economy and the creation of stable and qualified jobs. We are losing million-dollar investments that would have contributed to recovery and diversification. The Canary Islands are at the bottom of the autonomous communities, with only 41.5 million euros in the first nine months of 2021. This data is alarming and makes it clear that something is wrong, despite having one of the tax incentive packages most complete in Europe and the most advantageous in the country and a privileged geostrategic position to implement international projects. All this without delving into the legal insecurity that potential investors feel when they see that their project, after a long and terrible process, having all the licenses and complying with the legislation, can be paralyzed at the least expected moment.
Several environmental aspects appear in these eight proposals…
Of course. Tenerife is an island of great beauty and natural wealth and that is a reality that we must conscientiously preserve and because it is part of our strength. We are canaries and we love our land. For this reason, we must put our technology and scientific knowledge at the service of this objective, so that the environment and the well-being of those of us who live here are compatible. The future of the South must contemplate projects along these lines, such as the urgent execution of treatment plants and other water infrastructure, which is being successfully managed by the Insular Water Council, or the regeneration of the Montaña Roja Nature Reserve. Also, as I said before, we believe that these values are not at odds with progress and the generation of wealth.
During the pandemic, the leisure sector complained of being the great forgotten. The CEST now proposes to create a General Directorate of Leisure and Hospitality…
Not just during the pandemic. It is a reality that we denounced at the National Leisure Congress organized by the CEST in 2019. Within the tourism industry, leisure accounts for 2.3% of the GDP of the Canary Islands, with an annual turnover that exceeded one billion euros, and supports some 85,000 jobs. They are not negligible data. There are productive sectors that, with figures of this level or lower, have ministries dedicated to their activity. The professionalization of this sector in recent years has been constant and has pursued quality to offer the best services. However, the regulations for this type of premises entail costs for entrepreneurs that, in addition to not being necessary, are often unaffordable. We need a certain and rigorous framework that encourages us to improve the offer, instead of putting up obstacles. For this reason, we see the need for an administration that is dedicated to this, that listens to professionals and the population to establish a coherent regulatory framework that is adapted to the reality of the Canary Islands.