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March 30, 2020

SOS Restauración

by Juan M Ferrer

The most important part of this crisis is human lives, and everyone’s goal is to reduce the number of victims as much as possible and guarantee the best possible healthcare for those affected by the virus. The restaurateurs, who I represent here, have insisted, from the first moment, on the need to stay at home as the best way to face this epidemic and our collaboration and discipline in the governmental order has been immediate and with a collaborative spirit.

This is not the time, neither to reproach or criticize the Administration with whom we empathize and in general, we sympathize for the enormous responsibility and hard work that lies ahead. On our part we put understanding and offer collaboration when necessary.

Furthermore, we could say that, surprisingly, on this occasion, especially the Government of Spain and the Balearic Islands have been able to react quickly in the search for quick solutions to alleviate the evident economic hemorrhage that we are suffering and that could definitively bleed thousands and thousands of people and by extension as many workers and families.

Hence our responsibility now to push the Administration to fine-tune and complete the rough stroke measures that will quickly be approved. Because big government efforts will be useless if you don’t go into detail later, especially in the Balearic Islands where the economy is based on a tremendously seasonal service sector.

Above all, social measures have to be expanded and made effective for a large part of society that seems to have remained at the bottom of the bag and represents the greatest entrepreneurial fabric that will have to be counted on when exiting the tunnel from this crisis. I am referring to the self-employed and small businessmen who need quick responses to their imminent problems with the payment of taxes, especially municipal taxes, which the Palma City Council, for example, has not yet remedied.

And finally, we must invite the political and civil servant classes, in all their extension, to do a great exercise of solidarity with the rest of the thousands and thousands of citizens who are going to have to tighten their belts so much that it will cost them to breathe. The administration must also be subject to the Ertes, either generally or partially, as the mayor of Sóller has proposed, because everyone knows that the current situation of confinement and the orders given by the Government have left thousands of officials and politicians with nothing or little to do, at best. Let’s all be realistic and responsible. From the smallest town halls to the Crown itself, which is not going through its best moment either.

Our proposals are intended to help politicians in making decisions so that this health crisis, and the prevention of its spread, are as bearable as possible by companies in the catering sector that has been directly affecting a relatively seasonal environment. We take for granted, based on the memory of events, that the season is practically lost.

For this reason, it does not make sense that the competent authorities require that once the Ertes has ended, they cannot carry out layoffs for the next six months. It is a completely crazy measure since in a few months it will not make any sense to have in winter the templates that we have hired in spring in anticipation of the summer months. It lacks all logic. The most sensible thing would be to contemplate longer deadlines for hiring or in any case facilitate the reintegration of staff based on business needs.

We must not forget where we come from. The 2008 crisis left its aftermath in numerous small and medium restaurant businesses that now seemed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The nonsenses that the Palma City Council has recently put deserves special mention in particular , first with the restrictive hours in certain areas such as La Lonja, and a few weeks ago, in a general way, with the attempt to annihilate the terraces of the city , with outlandish measures such as the daily removal of furniture or the imposition of uniform umbrellas as the only, brilliant and ingenious. In short, the sector is suffering a lot.

We therefore need to immediately suspend the payment of the self-employed fee, including companies that in our sector are general. The processing of Ertes should be made as easy as possible. The processes are complex, and the logical thing to do in these circumstances is that they were agile, simplifying the bureaucracy that they entail as much as possible.

We need to suspend the payment to Social Security to those companies that miraculously can, under minimums and with a life thread, maintain certain activity, as well as 50% bonuses from October to May to deseasonalize and prolong, if possible, what little or nothing remains of the tourist season.

It is urgent to postpone the liquidation of company taxes for a minimum period of one month once the state of alarm ends, because the teams are depleted and the agencies cannot manage to process so many documents in such a short time, surpassed by the processing of credits, Ertes and other peremptory needs.

But above all, we expect an effort from the municipalities, especially the one of Palma. Garbage taxes, contribution, terraces, etc. It is unreasonable to pay for a municipal service that no one provides because no one sits on our terraces (the ones that remain) and no one picks up the trash because there is no trash to generate. Here we invite all municipal officials to follow the example of the socialist government of Calvià, whose mayor, Alfonso Rodríguez, has quickly made decisions in this regard and helps the restaurant owners of his municipality to overcome this period of agony.

We must be aware of how much social habits are going to change worldwide. We must intuit how much it will cost us again to attract to these islands the millions of tourists who have visited us so far each year and the wealth they have generated for our companies and workers. We will have to take measures and start new and witty campaigns to reestablish habits and get back to the habit of traveling again, to lose fears that are now taking their toll.

We need the administration to put in place balanced measures when it comes to facilitating, with suspensions or deferrals, the rents and credits on which our restoration activity is based. Aid that at the same time does not jeopardize the needs of the owners.

And in all this there is a very important agent that we did not want to cite until the end. I am referring to the banks, those almighty and at the same time necessary giants, which must play a fundamental role in this crisis. They should be up to the public sector. It is your time. A huge opportunity to demonstrate, if you want, that behind those cold and inhospitable counters are people, with the ability to empathize and understand that they can now return to society everything that the whole of citizens gave them not long ago. We still all pay the bank ransom, since we were told that trust with the banking system was important. And it was done. Well, now is your turn, a golden opportunity to ingratiate yourself with the society that you use and that now needs you. It is time for banks to get involved with nothing more than the survival of their customers. Without money there is no business, without business there is no need for credit and neither are banks.

We need financing lines, moratoriums, suspensions, in short … help. And much better if it is by commitment and vocation than by royal decree, as we have had to do others.

The same is true for large companies that are listed on international stock exchanges and count by hundreds the millions of euros they earn each year. An exemplary attitude is expected from them, as some have already done. Light, gas, telephone, insurance companies … all. Now is the time to change the way they serve ourselves because the world has already changed.




Article published by www.mallorcadiario.com