Business confederation laments delays in resilience plan

  • Lusa
  • 1 March 2023

"Delays mean that only €173 million from the RRP have reached companies, [equivalent to] 11.5% of the total payments already made and 3.4% of the amount that Portugal has already received."

The Confederation of Portuguese Business (CIP) regrets the “major delays” in the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), while the Business Association of Portugal (AEP) criticises the “basic bias” because the state is the “main beneficiary”.

A week after the National Commission for Monitoring the Recovery and Resilience Plan (CNA-PRR) announced that it had identified 15 investments in a worrying or critical state due to factors such as delays in applications or overly ambitious targets, the president of the CIP, António Saraiva, tells Lusa that “the main problem has to do with the major delays that occur in the deadlines for evaluation of applications, particularly of the notices that are aimed at companies.”

“The report [published last week by the CNA-PRR] shows that the deadlines have already exceeded 300 days, but, even in the case of projects that have already been approved, there are delays that are dragging on,” he adds, adding that, in the case of the mobilising agendas aimed at supporting companies, of the companies selected, “there are still 10 that do not have signed contracts, and of those that do, many are still waiting for the respective administrative validation.

“These delays mean that only €173 million from the RRP have reached companies, [equivalent to] 11.5% of the total payments already made and 3.4% of the amount that Portugal has already received from Brussels under this programme,” highlights António Saraiva.

According to the president of the CIP, the confederation also receives “complaints from companies that have difficulty in accessing timely clarification on the notices”, a situation that, along with delays, has “significant implications for companies’ investment decisions and their implementation on the ground”.

“In addition, there are delays in the delivery of much equipment and raw materials, resulting from the impact of the war on the functioning of supply chains, as well as the very high cost increases to which they are subject, given the projections made in their applications,” said António Saraiva.

The president of AEP, Luís Miguel Ribeiro, told Lusa that the association “warned in due time” of the “basic bias in the genesis of the PRR”.

“The main beneficiary is the State and not companies, whose share is very low – about a third, as the Government itself acknowledged – when one would expect the opposite in a programme designated for recovery and resilience after a pandemic that stopped many activities for a long time,” laments Luís Miguel Ribeiro.

At a time when just over €1.5 billion have been paid out to the direct and final beneficiaries of the RRP, Luís Miguel Ribeiro criticises the “still very low execution data in terms of payments”.

“This is a very marginal amount received by companies, suggesting that the problems of procedures and deadlines are even greater in companies and are preventing them from progressing in their business,” Luís Miguel Ribeiro told Lusa, stressing that “AEP cannot, therefore, accompany the optimism of the Government with regard to the implementation of the PRR.”

Portugal is currently the sixth country in the European Union with the most funds received from the European Commission, around €5.14 billion (€4.07 billion in subsidies and €1.07 billion in loans), and the fourth with the highest implementation rate of 17%.

The Portuguese RRP has a total allocation of €16.6 billion, of which €13.9 billion are subsidies, and €2.7 billion are loans aimed at implementing reforms and investments until 2026.