Spanish business owners hope the new government will push through corporate tax breaks and cut red tape
Guitar manufacturer Manuel Rodriguez wants less regulation so he can start hiring again
Spain has 21.5% unemployment, with 45% among youth
As Spain struggles with its economic problems, business owners such as Manuel Rodriguez are hoping the country’s new conservative government will push through pre-election promises for corporate tax breaks and cutting red tape.
Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy won last month’s election after telling voters the economy was his priority.
Manuel Rodriguez, who heads a century-old family business, Guitarras Manuel Rodriguez and Sons, says he hopes the new leader is aggressive in implementing economic reforms. “We need very drastic changes in Europe,” Rodriguez says.
His business, which manufactures Spanish classical guitars, has survived Spain’s recent economic pain while other competitors have had to close.
Rodriguez believes his chances of surviving the tough climate are being dented by the country’s high business taxes and rigid labor laws.
His company has a joint venture in China to make lower-priced guitars – a deal which has helped increase sales globally by 10% this year. However, his experience within the country leads him to ask: “How can you compete with people in China working 60 hours a week and we are working 37 hours?”
The business retains its premium guitars production in Spain, but now with fewer workers. In just a few years the workforce has dropped from 60 staff to 25. Guitarras Manuel Rodriguez and Sons has not hired a new full-time employee in six years.
Rodriguez wants to hire again – Spain has 21.5% unemployment, with 45% among youth – but says the country’s corporate regulations need to be overhauled to enable this.
“We need more freedom, [the regulations are] too tight,” says Rodriguez.
CNN’s Emily Smith contributed to this story.