Hotels, restaurants reiterate that state aid is “not enough”

  • Lusa
  • 7 April 2021

The Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHRESP) believes that the support available to the sector is not enough.

The Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHRESP) on Wednesday reiterated that the support available to the sector is not enough, defending measures such as the 10-year amortisation of bank moratoria and the temporary reduction in VAT.

“We recognise the government’s effort to support the business fabric [with moratoria] but it is insufficient. The moratoria are not lost funds, the covid lines are not subsidies. We know that we will not be able to resolve future liabilities,” said the vice-president of AHRESP during a hearing before the parliamentary commission for monitoring the application of measures to respond to the pandemic and the process of economic and social recovery.

Recognising that, due to the requirements of the EBA (European Banking Authority), the moratoria will not be extended for much longer, Carlos Moura said that the banking sector is also concerned about the impairments that may occur because everyone is aware that it will not be possible to match what they have stopped paying.

“We need to have a repayment plan for the 10-year moratoria. The state has to help business. If there are subsidies, so much the better, but even if they are to be repaid, it has to be a long-term plan between the bank and the companies, obviously overseen by the government,” he said.

Other additional measures demanded by AHRESP are the temporary application of a reduced VAT rate on food and beverage services, a reinforcement of non-refundable support, the availability of support for recent businesses (currently deprived of any aid) and that the reduction in the drop in turnover taken into account for support is 15%.

Also in the hearing, the Portuguese Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism (APHORT) regretted that, after more than a year of the pandemic, at the legislative level the same mistakes continue to be made.

“The Covid legal order continues to be unclear, direct, and difficult to apply and resorts to indeterminate concepts different from the pre-existing basic legislation,” said Isabel Tavares de Oliveira, from APHORT’s legal office.

In addition, she said, the legislation is published without the necessary advance notice to allow companies to adapt, and what is announced is not always what is published, which implies, countless times, the need for requests for clarification from the Ministry.

The legal consultant of APHORT also defended a greater reinforcement and flexibility of support, noting that the most recent companies are very unprotected.

Regarding the ‘Clean & Safe’ seal, which certifies the compliance of establishments with health standards, the association said has been much sought after by companies but considers that it turned out that it is not valued by the market.

“This renewal [of the certifying seal] that is now on the table has many more details than the previous one, so at the moment we do not think it is best to create more obligations for our members. This is not the time to create more complications in the business,” she said.

“We see it well, but not by creating excessive norms and new investment obligations for those who want to access it.”