Delays in the Government’s rescue fund choke the tourism sector


The delay in granting the aid that SEPI manages for large companies and the Cofides fund for SMEs has many tourism companies on edge. At least twenty of the more than sixty companies that have requested funds from SEPI since this rescue mechanism was launched almost a year and a half ago, and that has an endowment of 10,000 million euros, are from this sector. It is not for less, since the latest data that is known show that since the pandemic broke out, tourist activity has stopped generating 164,000 million euros.

Companies such as Hesperia, eDreams and Air Nostrum are some that are waiting for an injection

of money to survive after the pandemic, which have damaged their accounts too much. However, after sixteen months, only four tourism companies (Ávoris, Air Europa, Hotusa and Plus Ultra) have received aid. “We have spoken with those who have applied for aid, and they don’t know anything. It costs nothing to report and say exactly how the situation is. We live in limbo and sometimes sounds like a disdain for the private sector, which is making an intense effort to face the crisis, “the president of the Tourism Board, Juan Molas, reproached last Monday.

Time is short, since, although Brussels is expected to grant an extension for the granting of funds, the Government in principle has until December 31 to approve the aid. Among companies in the sector, the feeling is one of frustration. More in some cases, which have been waiting for up to a year for the response of the Government rescue fund. But the direct line with the companies was cut after the institutional crisis awakened at SEPI after the rescue of Plus Ultra.

One of the affected firms calls the situation “inexplicable” just one year after submitting the bailout request, twice the time stipulated by the ministerial rule that gives rise to the fund to receive a definitive response (six months). «Our case continues ‘paradísimo’. They tell us unofficially that our file is mature and close to being approved but we still have no news. They have told us the same story four times in the last few months, ”these sources explain.

Other informants from the sector also regret that, in addition to Plus Ultra, aid has only been granted to large companies such as Ávoris and Air Europa (both owned by the Globalia group) or the hotel company Hotusa, which “has overtaken us on the right.”

For their part, SEPI sources assure that they are still in the study phase of these files and shield the delays due to the complex analysis that a public money loan operation requires. «We need a lot of information. In a procedure like this in which they request correction of documentation there are a series of assumptions that paralyze the process “, they point out.

In any case, some tourism companies continue to label the treatment that the fund has given to the files as “discriminatory”, since they think that the procedures for some of the firms rescued have been resolved in just weeks, while the majority continue without response months after your request. So far, the public company received 69 requests from companies as recognized by the president of SEPI, Belén Gualda, in Congress a few weeks ago. Although he assured that some requests have been withdrawn “because the companies have understood that they do not meet the conditions to receive the aid.”

Since its launch in July 2020, the Executive has only approved Air Europa’s requests for 475 million; that of the one also participated by Globalia, Ávoris, for 320; in addition to Duro Felguera (120), Plus Ultra (53) and Tubos Reunidos (112 million euros); also to the steelmaker Rugui Steel (25 million) and the hotel group Hotusa (241 million). In total, 1,346 million, barely 13% of the total endowment of the fund. Although the rescue to Airtificial is already on the exit ramp, already confirmed by the SEPI, in the absence of it being raised to the Council of Ministers and approved. For this firm the aid will be 34 million euros.

Contrast with Germany

It’s not just complaints about the slowness of bailout funds. The companies also complain that the 7,000 million euros in direct aid approved by the Pedro Sánchez Executive has not yet arrived, “and we do not know when they will arrive,” said Juan Molas.

The lack of aid from the Government of Spain to the main sector of the Spanish economy, and the one most damaged by the coronavirus crisis, contrasts with the funds that other countries have injected into companies where the weight of tourism in their GDP is lower . As in the case of Germany, where the Government of Angela Merkel did give aid to companies as compensation for the inactivity caused by the pandemic. Specifically, the two Spanish hotel companies that are listed on the Stock Exchange, NH and Meliá, received 39 and 18.8 million euros, respectively, during the second quarter of this year for this reason.

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