EFFECTIVE POLICIES

Spain 2020 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

The Ministry of Development is focusing on a social housing policy that facilitates decent and adequate housing for all.

Pedro Saura García
BIOGRAPHY

Pedro Saura García has an economics degree from the University of Valencia and a PhD in economics from the University of Murcia. He is a professor of fundamentals of economic analysis at the University of Murcia. He has been spokesman for economy, finance, and budgets in different legislatures. He also held the positions of general director of economy and planning, and sector secretary of economy and finance in the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia. Since 2018, he has been the Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Transport, and Housing in the Ministry of Development.

Throughout 2018, construction costs increased by 10.3%, according to data from the Direct Construction Cost Index. How is the government ensuring this increase does not affect the future of construction in Spain?
It is a matter of great importance for the sector since it must respond to the increase in prices through a commitment to greater industrialization of components and processes. This policy must also serve to meet the quality and sustainability requirements established by the government as strategic objectives. The increasing costs are associated with the dynamism of the construction sector, which is again contributing to the revival of economic activity and job creation. Throughout Spain, construction employment is growing at an annual rate of 11.2%. In 1Q2019, construction directly employed 1.28 million people. Although this is well below the 2.7 million people employed in construction at the beginning of 2008, it reveals the strong demand for workers in the sector. In turn, GDP from construction has grown 6.9% YoY in 1Q2019, representing more than four consecutive years of growth. In the context of such intense growth, it is also necessary to advance in terms of training skilled labor to respond to the existing demand. Consequently, the government will continue to work in these two areas in the coming years: supporting the modernization and industrialization of the sector linked to an improvement in product quality and sustainability and boosting employment training to ensure the availability of qualified personnel, thus promoting the balanced development of the sector.

The 2018-2021 Housing Plan contemplates aid for the promotion of protected housing with an allocation of EUR357 million in 2019. What has been done so far, and what role do the municipalities and regional governments have in it?
First, the execution of the 2018-2021 State Housing Plan is carried out through agreements already formalized with the Autonomous Communities (CCAA) and with the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, through which the Ministry of Development has committed to contribute a total of EUR1.37 billion between 2018 and 2021. In 2018, 50.4% of the funds transferred were for rental assistance to shared units that have few resources, including young people and people over 65. Indeed, 51 agreements were signed through which resources will be devoted to the creation of 1,508 homes, 1,358 public and 150 private. They will be on the rental market for a minimum of 25 years. In sum, I am optimistic about what has been done so far, regardless of whether it is a plan approved by the previous People's Party government. We must promote the increase and conservation of our public housing stock and deepen aid to those especially vulnerable, such as victims of gender-based violence, people subject to eviction from their homes, and homeless people. We will insist on an effective coordination of policies through the corresponding sector conference, a cause abandoned by the previous governments.

What are the main objectives and priorities of your office for next year, and what is the route forward for the rest of your mandate?
Taking into account the situation that many families and the sector find themselves in, we want to address a series of diverse measures, but all of them need to be integrated into a joint and strategic vision. We began with this vision, creating a dynamic of common work in housing with the constitution of an inter-ministerial group, reinforcing the coordination between departments, seeking the coherence of public policy, and identifying a series of urgent measures aimed at guaranteeing the effective exercise of the right to housing. It is a vision in which, in addition to advancing in this transversal and integrated approach, the citizen becomes the center of public policies, incorporating greater social commitment to vulnerable households and the youth; the sector will exercise leadership in global strategies aimed at reaching the commitments of the Paris Agreement, the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda, and the implementation of the urban agenda, placing the sector at the forefront of renewable energy and efficiency.