More than 8 years endorse the tireless work of Fernando Santiago as president of the General Council of Colleges of Administrative Managers, a position that does not tire him, but rather “motivates him more every day.” Biting, verbose, clairvoyant, honest as hell and, above all, honest. He charges without mincing words against the “aberrations” of the Government and criticizes the social agents alike, the unions for defending those who pay them and the employers for not “truly” defending the employers. Santiago said.
What has changed in eight years in charge of administrative managers?
Everything has changed. With the law of electronic access of citizens to public services, of 2007, managers were a profession to disappear, so we had to face a recycling that has led us to be a reference and essential.
What leads a businessman to represent 6,000 managers?
Defending the small business owner and the self-employed person is very gratifying, even if it is hard for me to work more hours in the organization than in my own job.
He always says that Administrative managers keep the Public Administration lubricated, but that the Government wastes their professionalism and experience.
We are totally wasted and ignored. We are the spearhead of the company before the Administration, which still does not understand that its best client is the managers. I think they should put aside the Latin adage that citizens are bad by nature and have to justify themselves. Spanish citizens are among the most compliant in the world and managers are not the ones who cheat to benefit, on the contrary. The Administration does not believe in citizens, only in itself and in its own benefit.
Can public management be improved?
Many times, the Administration and the Government are disconnected from reality. We do not work in large spheres, nor in large firms, but we know when a law, just by seeing it and smelling it, is not going to work, as happened with the decree of the Next Generation funds, because they focus on large companies, not for what should be its main recipient, SMEs and the self-employed, which make up 99% of the productive fabric.
Has the pandemic changed everything?
It has shown that, despite what they say, we were not as digitized as we thought. And it has been seen that the public administration is collapsed, saturated and poorly managed. Hence the serious problems that accumulates.
Because key organizations like SEPE, for example, left a million people unpaid when they collapsed; the Directorate General of Traffic or the Social Security had countless problems and were only saved because the managers managed everything.
So, were they your lifeline?
We have been in all the crises, we have been the link between the company and the Administration, which has not been paralyzed because 98% of the telematic presentations were made by us. In the pandemic we continued working because someone had to process layoffs, payroll, ERTE, financial reports for banks, taxes… The Government could do without many things, but not collect.
Have SMEs still not recovered from the blow?
As long as governments are not aware that there must be a personal status for the self-employed and small businesses, which is the majority, we are doing very badly. It continues to legislate for large companies. Despite this, the self-employed and small businesses will save the economy as always with their work and effort because the future of their businesses and their families depends on it, and not thanks to the Government. Where the solution will not come from is from banks and multinationals.
Do you think the government is not making the right decisions?
The ICOs, the aid, the subsidies… have not reached where they had to go. As always, most have been turned over to large corporations. And then we have some committees of experts with political elephants that are not on the streets. Those who should ask to solve the problems are the counter officials, who know much more than 98% of the experts and general managers, and are the ones who could solve all the problems of the Administration, but they do not have them .
Housing law, rent intervention, cap on food, etc.
What do you think of this interventionism?
The interventionist desire of the Government is going to more. Saying that having five properties is being a great fork is an aberration. There are millions of people who have worked their butt off to buy a property, they have been taxed for it, and they die and they are made to pay again. It does not have an end. Most of those who rent a flat do not speculate, it is to have a small income that allows them to live better. But they only think about their votes.
Do you think the government is carrying out a smear campaign against Spanish businessmen?
Absolutely. For some members of the Government, businessmen are ruthless capitalists. So, when they leave politics and go to management positions in companies, they will then become ruthless capitalists, right? You can’t insult people who pay taxes. But not only in this Government, because everyone has always had an absolute lack of consideration and empathy. What they should do is become entrepreneurs and see what it costs and what is suffered to get your company and your workers forward. They wouldn’t say that much nonsense.
So, do you consider that the Government, and the Administration in general, lack empathy with citizens, the self-employed and SMEs to which, for example, public contracts are not updated?
The Administration is breaking all collection records thanks to not adapting the collection bases to inflation, without deflating or adapting anything at all. That is ruthless capitalism, but playing your money in a company, no. Please… The ruthless are the politicians, not the businessmen.
He often explains that he knows the operation, the needs and the virtues of small and medium businesses. What would you do to improve the situation of SMEs?
Make a statute in conditions for the self-employed and micro-SMEs. More financing, less bureaucracy, less controls, and less pressure from the banks, which have a throwing weapon because they often ruin the businessman who could get ahead with help but there is no empathy for him. I would ask for legislation less in favor of the big ones and more in favor of the small ones, who are the ones who truly sustain the Spanish economy. And coherent legislation on payments, because many times charging 90 days drowns the little ones.
And how is that solved?
The first, forcing to pay a maximum of 30 days, starting with the Administration. Why is it allowed to pay up to 180 days? It is an aberration. You can perfectly lower the payment dates, but you don’t want to do it.
Do you think that social agents do not care enough about small and medium businesses?
I remind you that the unions are the first to lay off in times of crisis, or when things are going well, the only thing they demand is more subsidies and more money to manage. But work, little.
And the CEOE?
He also has his own. For example, the president of the CEOE should not collect from the organization what he does, because he loses all independence, like the one I have with the managers, because I support myself with my work, but the president of the CEOE, who earns 400,000 euros and he lives on it, he will never leave and he will cling to it like a burning nail. But I am not referring only to Antonio Garamendi, I am referring to all the presidents who charge, which are not few. Because they don’t say it, many hide it in their accounts.
Would you not charge if you chaired CEOE or Cepyme?
Of course not, I live from my job. It is a position in which you are to help entrepreneurs, not to benefit financially.
If you were asked to take a leap forward and lead an alternative in the employers’ organization, would you do it?
At this moment I am dedicated to administrative managers. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow, but I’m always ready for anything, but with conditions.
That things are done well and that there are no slogans. That’s what political parties are for. Business organizations must be directed defending your own, sacrificing individual interests to collective ones.
So, are you considering running for the presidency of Cepyme?
There are still three years left until the elections and now I am focused on the administrative managers.
And in three years?
When the time comes, we’ll talk, but I never rule out anything if it’s to defend so many abused businessman.