In an attempt to counter the terrible consequences of the Corona virus pandemic, in addition to the measures adopted by the central and regional governments, many municipalities are implementing policies to help the small businesses which are the backbone of the economy and have suffered serious and direct consequences of the crisis.
The Orihuela local government have announced some important and necessary social measures. Now is the time for our municipality to follow the example of many local governments in Spain and to adopt an urgent action plan to help small businesses, in particular those in Orihuela Costa which have been closed or seriously affected by the confinement policy.
We estimate that in Orihuela Costa there are some 750 small businesses, mainly bars and restaurants. They represent thousands of owners, workers and families. They need urgent help to supplement the actions of the national and regional governments.
The Orihuela government should urgently mobilise resources to finance urgent measures. These should include:
Approval of a new municipal budget with a marked accent on social and economic actions. It is incredible, no doubt because of differences between the PP and Ciudadanos coalition partners, that Orihuela still functions on the 2018 budget renewed annually since then. This budget is patently incapable of taking into account the radically changed circumstances of today.
There should be an emergency fund to finance actions to assist small businesses to pay continuing expenses such as electricity, water, telephone and internet.
There should be subsidies to help pay the municipal rates and vehicle taxes. Some municipalities have offered subsidies equal to 25% of these taxes.
The local tax for street cleaning and rubbish removal should be suspended for small businesses or at least adjusted to reflect the reduction in the services actually carried out
The local tax on the occupation of terraces should also be suspended.
Hidragua, the municipal water company, should expand its social subsidies to compensate the small businesses and families affected by the crisis.
The operating licences for new businesses should be suspended to encourage economic revival once the crisis is over.
Town Hall offices both in Orihuela and Playa Flamenca should be equipped with a service to provide all information relating to aid at national, regional and local levels available to individuals and businesses to confront the crisis, including these new measures
C.L.A.R.O. believes these proposals are necessary and affordable. The following table shows the small percentage of the current Orihuela budget devoted to small businesses, less than half of the budget for fiestas, many of which will obviously not take place this year. In a crisis expenditure should be diverted to essential activities.
C.L.A.R.O. firmly believes that we need our small businesses to survive the crisis and resume their activities as soon as possible. We urge the Mayor and the governing coalition to adopt an urgent action plan to introduce these proposed measures and no doubt others which will help save our small businesses and the families which depend on them. They are essential to our way of life and the health of the local economy.