The public infrastructure sector is no stranger to the effects of the pandemic. La tender in civil works closed 2020 with a total volume of 8,364 million euros, 26% less compared to 2019, and public procurement was 6,348 million euros, which represents a decline of 40%, levels not recorded since the middle of the previous decade.
Specifically, the bidding had in 2020 the third biggest drop since 1996 and the hiring the third most significant in the entire historical series, he explaineda Association of Construction Companies and Infrastructure Concessionaires (Seopan).
This situation led to the destruction of 80,200 jobs on average per month in Spain in the construction sector during the first state of alarm (March / May 2020).
During the presentation of his “Analysis of the Infrastructure Sector; Balance for 2020 and Forecasts for 2021 ”, Seopan reflects the punishment of Covid-19 in the sector, as well as the associated uncertainty for this year due to the arrival of European funds. Specifically, that construction sector activity is expected to grow this year between 1% and 2.7% after the 8% drop last year.
This potential growth is conditioned, according to Seopan, by budget execution – mainly Adif, which represents 24.4% of the national civil works -, the decisions of Public Administrations to promote public-private collaboration contracts and by the capacity that these Administrations have to manage the European aid in time – which, for 2021, is estimated at 34,490 million euros.
Boosting EU funds
To alleviate this lack of public investment, Seopan relies on the arrival of European funds and the General State Budgets (PGE), where the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and the Ministry of Ecological Transition will be the main responsible for mobilizing the investments in infrastructure.
Specifically, this year an investment injection of 34,490 million euros (more than 11,600 million between the two large investment ministries). This amount is divided into 24,054, 2 million euros from the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism (MRR) to be received by the Government; 2,436 million euros in Recovery Aid for Cohesion and the territories of Europe (REACT EU) to be received by the Ministry of Health; and 8,000 million euros of recovery aid for Cohesion and the territories of Europe (REACT EU) to be received directly by the CCAA of the EC (already regionalized by the Treasury).
However, the president of Seopan, Julián Núñez, has proposed that the European authorities approve an extension of the execution deadlines given the impact of the pandemic and that it is not yet controlled.
The volume of EU NG funds to manage in 2021 represents, according to the report, an “unprecedented challenge” (they are 10.7% higher than the expenditure on hospital services of the Autonomous Communities in 2019).