Catalonia's enterprise and knowledge minister, Àngels Chacón, who has been confined in the special Igualada coronavirus lockdown zone for more than three weeks, has expressed her "deep disappointment" at the Spanish government's recentralization of powers, enacted as part of its response to the Covid-19 crisis. This move, she says, has taken the Sánchez adminstration away from reality and towards "an ignorance of territorial needs" which means, according to the minister, that "we are moving late and badly". She warns that the Spanish government is "forgetting many companies" and that "the business fabric is in danger of disappearing" without more measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis and inject liquidity into companies.
"We find ourselves with a solution that arrives late and leaves many workers unprotected." "We will repeat as much as necessary that Catalonia is a country of small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed people, who have been forgotten. Or does someone think that when the state of alarm is lifted it will be possible just to resume activity automatically? We need real measures to protect our productive fabric," warned Chacón.
The Catalan minister warned that the vast majority of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or freelancers in Catalonia "have stopped billing overnight." "If we act as if nothing is happening and insist that they make the same social security payments, if there are no injection measures that allow SMEs to survive, we will need to extend not only the ERTO temporary layoff mechanisms, but also the unemployment benefit to many, many people," she said in a message to the Spanish government.
At the same time, Chacón assured that the moratorium on social security contributions - annnounced belatedly yesterday - is "the minimum" that the state could do and she noted that in the case of self-employed people, of whom there are 540,000 in Catalonia, "the ideal step would be for the state to write off" these quota payments, which would thus inject about 185 million euros of liquidity.
With regard to the subsidies set up by the Spanish administration, the minister welcomed the provision of credits, but criticized that no relief was being offered on "regular tax payments", nor were the special characteristics of smaller employers - those with fewer than 50 employees, a big part of the business fabric in Catalonia - taken into account.
The minister also criticized the lack of efficiency in the measures announced so far, saying that workers' groups were "disoriented" and SMEs at risk. "Either we take care of the SMEs or in a few months we will regret the consequences," she said.