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Ramón Tamames: "Queda poco por privatizar"

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Ramón Tamames. Professor of economic structure

Carmen P. Flores.- Economist Ramón Tamames answered TEJ's questions on that the privatisations undertaken by the governments of Felipe González and José María Aznar were positive. He supports public Health and Education, in some cases with private participation, and considers the "never-ending crisis" will be overcome by the effort of all.

What does "privatise, there is still something left" sound like?
It sounds to me like the times of Felipe González and José María Aznar, when many public enterprises were privatised, to fulfil the mandates of Maastricht and repay debt. I think it was a good operation: the treasury took in a lot of money, and the state enterprises made independence gained in strength with a great expansion.

In this country, have we privatised well and when appropriate?
Now things are different, because there are few public corporations to privatise, the most important being Aena, and this operation is in progress these days. It sounds good to me to privatise only 49%, and that Aena remains a company of a public nature which coordinates the nearly fifty airports that Spain has.

Is it true that the privatisation of the 80s were beneficial to internationalise, but the most recent ones not so much?
As I said before, the companies privatised in the years 1980-2000 were done so with very good sense. Which was also due to the Privatisation Commission which was chaired by people like Luis Gámir and Juan Ramón Cuadrado-Roura. What is not ever going to be privatised are the Paradores de Turismo, and Renfe; and I feel good that they remain in the public sector, increasingly forming part of the Spain Brand for their increasing quality, although in both cases they need more dynamism.

A question straight from the manual: How should a privatisation be done for it to be really useful to society?
Nothing from the manual, because it would take dozens of pages. On how to privatise and others things, connect to the Privatisation Commission, which I referred to earlier.

How far should public governance go, and where should private interests be imposed?
The State must be the helmsman, but those who row -in a Oxford / Cambridge boat race style, or in our North coast drifters- should be companies where the risk and benefits are borne by the great entrepreneurs. Competition will ensure that they look after their customers, over and above any other regulation.

Has privatisation has been one of the major triggers of corruption?
I do not think so. Corruption is to be found more in subsidies for procurement of large public works projects, etc., and the fees charged for doing anything. I really do not remember, and I do not know if memory fails me, any scandal in privatisation.

Give me examples of "good and bad privatisation".
I will not insist, because I have already said: privatisations have been good, and if there is a bad one, tell me which one it is.

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