By Ray Kearney
On Monday morning business owners from Orihuela Costa and other coastal towns drove in convoy to Orihuela to hold a peaceful protest against Pedro Sanchez, communist president of Spain and Ximo Puig, communist president of the Valencian Community.
They were visiting Orihuela to inaugurate the AVE high speed train which will greatly help tourism when they eventually lift the travel ban. This ban is one of the measures designed to stop covid-19 killing people but in so doing, it has killed the tourist trade and many tourism related businesses.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020 businesses have been regularly closed or restricted, against the will of their owners and staff.
We agree that governments are there to protect the health and welfare of each of its citizens with preferential treatment for the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. What this present government has achieved, with its extreme left-wing ideology, is to reduce businesses, their owners and employees, to the level of beggars.
In a recent News program on Spanish TV, they showed a graph of the help given by other countries in Europe to the hospitality industry In Billions of euros:
Denmark 50, Netherlands 15, Germany 10, France 6, UK 5.1, Italy 5.4, Romania 2 and Spain ZERO€.
In a program called ERTE it looked like the government were helping. Employees received about 60% of their wages minus their social security payment. If any member of staff is let go in the next 12 months (it was 6) the employer must pay back all the ERTE received by that employee. Some employees wait for 6-9 months before they get their first ERTE payments. Payments from the Social Security are means tested and very difficult to get.
Now, employers have to pay full social security (about 400€ per month per full-time employee) whether the employee is working or not. There are no grants for businesses. Remember, that most small businesses are closed because there are no tourists, no property buyers, no investors and bars and restaurants are closed.
Electricity rates have doubled, rents, mortgages, SUMA, rubbish collection etc still have to be paid. Its no wonder that over 50% of businesses are closed, never to reopen.
The government promised business loans but the banks only lend to people who are low risk. All small businesses are now high risk and so they cannot get loans, but who in their right mind would go into debt with such an unsure future.
Peter Houghton (PIOC) points out that “As of the 21st January 2021, 85,000 businesses have closed with a loss of over one million jobs in the hospitality industry alone. Businesses and their employees 11 months ago were contributing to the national economy but are now seeking out food banks to feed their families”.
Raymond Kearney, (OC Avanza business association) said “Other European countries have given cash injections to their hospitality sector, they have helped them get through this Covid World War but Pedro Sanchez has given nothing. Ximo Puig very little.
The national and the community governments are embarked on a scorched Earth policy, they are destroying all small to medium sized businesses. The ideology of Sanchez and Puig will lead us to old USSR or North Korean system where we all work in factories and are paid by an all-controlling central government. Already 55% of the population are in jobs paid by the government or on pensions and disability benefit, this is pure communism”.
What small businesses need right now is direct cash injections (not loans or schemes), temporarily ceasing Social Security payments, removal of the ERTE penalties, and to allow employees to claim unemployment benefits until this pandemic is behind us and freedom of movement between countries is restored.