Members of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) are optimistic about the economic recovery despite the new confinement of a month decreed, as of Thursday, by the Government of Boris Johnson and the uncertainties about the ‘Brexit’. For the outgoing managing director of the employers’ association, Carolyn Fairbairn, the agreement between London and Brussels is now “a moral necessity”.
IWC Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith described the general framework of a single event at the annual conference. The economic impact of the pandemic has hit all countries at the same time and in a short time. New instruments of economic policy had to be invented. But the UK economy will have shrunk 10% this year and will rebound to 6% or 7% in 2021.
Regarding lasting changes, there is consensus among members of the organization on the leap that digitization has taken in all sectors in these months, with consequences in the forms of work and the bill of cities, and also in the international projection of companies, whose adaptation to the first wave will allow 70% to remain active during the new confinement.
The depth of a cultural change was also expressed. Unilever CEO Alan Jope expressed this as “the false dilemma between the company’s social purpose and its financial health.” The pandemic has caused changes due to fear, but it has also prevailed over trusted brands, responsible consumption and with social awareness. According to Jope, not only will they not disappear but will also be factors in recovery.
For Sue Garfitt, from Alpro food company, based in Belgium, the change is profound due to the impulse of “the generation of ‘millennials’ (born between 1982 and 2004), which combines digital capacity and aspiration of social purpose”. For Garfitt, adapting his company to greater sustainability with nature is also an opportunity to attract talented young people to the food sector.
Test and disunity
Director Fairbairn has participated in the responses to the crisis in meetings with the Treasury and with the coordinating body of the unions (TUC). Now ask the Government for more clarity on the duration of wage subsidies, to better communicate its measures (the confinement was leaked to the media, forcing its announcement), to clarify the exit strategy, a mixed commission on employment ,. ..
The president of the CBI, Lord Karan Bilimoria, an Indian-born brewery entrepreneur who is part of the political and economic ‘establishment’ of both countries, is optimistic about the example of the recovery after the first lockdown. It asks, like 80% of its members, that there be an agreement on ‘Brexit’ with the EU, even if it is less, because “it would be a platform for the future”.
Bilimoria’s insistence on rapid tests as an essential instrument after confinement was endorsed by epidemiologist Devi Sridhar, who presented three options to the business audience: universal suppression of the virus whose first opportunity has already been lost, vaccination strategies depending on the quantities available in 2021 or that the test system works not only to do many, as now, but also to isolate those affected and cut the transmission.
While the CBI debated the future of the economy, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, asked in Parliament that the other parties stop criticizing the test system that his government designed and encourage the positive to isolate themselves. The opposition openly criticizes him for responding belatedly to the evolution of the epidemic, and its seats abound with rebels complaining about the suppression of their freedoms.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.