Austria as an economic location is seriously under threat according to domestic business leaders.
The warning comes after several banks indicated that they were considering moving their headquarters abroad because of the taxes they were having to pay in Austria, and only last week steel industry voestalpine boss Wolfgang Eder also said that the tax burden and lack of interest in reforms of the government was also forcing him to consider going to the United States.
Eder confirmed: “At the moment we only see North America as a long-term location. The wrong environmental policy in Europe, the high taxes on strike and the fact that the government doesn’t give this a chance to speak are all factors. I would regard it is highly unlikely that there any future factories in Austria.”
In a report in the Austrian magazine Format they had the headline “so critical as never before” and offered the chance for 24 top managers in Austria to offer their opinions on the business situation in the country. The result is far from positive.
Managers complained of too high taxes, too many bureaucratic hurdles, a lack of any interest in reform and anger at the massively high energy prices for business and a lack of advantage in the country’s energy policies.
They are echoing the views made earlier by Chamber of Commerce president Christoph Leitl, who said: “If the USA which was at the heart of the latest economic crisis can manage the growth of two percent, and strike only 0.2 percent, then that is a scandal.”
According to the report in Format criticisms are coming in from all sides of business and getting louder all the time.
Hannes Androsch, one of the country’s foremost industrialists said: “We are playing with our future potential. What we need is competitiveness and policies that encourage growth.”
Andreas Untersperger, boss at Lenzing, said: “We need one simple clarity about energy costs over the next decade which are already high enough for Austria.”
Georg Kapsch, president of the country’s industrial association, the Industriellenvereinigung, said: “It cannot be that 60 percent of every wage increase ends up in state coffers.”
Byron Haynes, boss of banking group BAWAG- P.S.K., said: “The taxing burden in Austria on the banking sector is simply not bearable and will have a very negative effect on future investment.”
Gerhard Roiss, OMV-managing director said: “It would be better to simply milk the cow, and not to slaughter it.”
Georg Wailand, who was the business managing editor at the bestselling newspaper the Kronen Zeitung, said: “Managers and businessmen feel that they are constantly left high and dry by the politicians. Austria is losing its attractiveness as an international business location. And we hear always the same argument – that the economic crisis is to blame.
“In fact since the financial crisis almost 6 years have passed. In other countries things are moderately starting to take a turn for the better. We need to use the wind of change now to leave behind the moaning and the excuses and finally to move forward. We need to come up with policies growth instead of spreading fear and anxiety.”