Transparency 'drowns' island SMEs with covid aid

Transparency asks companies for a self-assessment and to advertise the aid on their respective websites. / C7

It obliges those who obtained more than 60,000 euros to publish the subsidy on their website, but many are micro-enterprises or freelancers without a page. The employers criticize that companies that try to save the year are "charged" more

Silvia Fernandez

The Canary Islands Transparency Commissioner, a body dependent on the regional Parliament and responsible, among other things, for the control and evaluation of public subsidies, is causing a real
headache for hundreds of island SMEs who received covid aid from the fund of 1,144 million euros provided by the State.

In the last two weeks, companies, some micro and self-employed with less than 10 workers, that obtained more than 60,000 euros in aid have begun to receive
Commissioner's letters in which they are urged to "submit a self-assessment" of the aid through the T-Canaria information application in the electronic headquarters of the regional government.

This somewhat cumbersome procedure and not without difficulties for a small SME is not, however, the main problem of the requirement that the Commissioner poses to the
companies, which are now fully involved in the closing of the fiscal year.

As reported to the companies, the companies have until June 30 to send the information. The term opened at the end of May, so they have had a short month to comply.

Publication of grants on your own website

The main 'but' of the requirement raised by this control body is that
companies are required to publish on their respective websites information on grants received. In many cases, they are self-employed or micro-SMEs that, due to the nature of their business, do not have their own website.

However, the Commissioner makes it clear that it is mandatory to publicize the subsidies in a separate portal external to the entity's website or on its website but creating a specific section called 'Transparency' or 'Transparency Portal'.

“Your entity is one of the
3,245 private entities to which we call this year in the Canary Islands to present their self-assessment not only to comply with the transparency regulations but also with the publicity obligations established in the General Law of Subsidies", is collected in one of the letters sent to an affected company, to which in the next line,
he is warned that he must comply with what is asked of him in order to “avoid possible penalties or non-renewal of the aid”, as well as the total or partial reimbursement of the granted subsidy.

The Transparency Commissioner has posted tutorials and instructions on its website to resolve the
multitude of doubts that the Canarian companies have raised and that they see that they do not arrive to comply with this obligation within the established period.

Many doubts and difficulty to clarify them

Two video conferences have even been organized to explain details and companies that still have doubts are invited to contact the Commissioner by mail, since, as stated in the letter sent, given that this year there is a 227% increase in the number of organizations summoned "to render accounts" and that the organism only has seven people, the attention capacity is limited. From the Commissioner, companies are assured that "it is not necessary to have a large budget" to comply.

The employer criticizes that companies are charged with "more obstacles"

The vice president of the Canarian Confederation of Entrepreneurs (CCE), José Cristóbal García, yesterday criticized the moment in which the Transparency Commissioner has raised the demand for companies to comply with the self-assessment and publicity of the aid. “This is not the time to increase the pressure on companies. It is burdening companies with more administrative and bureaucratic obstacles when they are trying to save the year," says García, who also warns that many small companies and freelancers do not have the "mechanisms" to comply with what is requested by Transparency by not having a page Web. "Enough of bureaucracy," he says.

The managing partner of Luján Asociados, Orlando Luján, yesterday described the Transparency requirement as "disproportionate", especially for small businesses.

He assures that he knows of cases of small self-employed workers who now, in the middle of the fiscal year, are being suffocated by the requirement of having to create a web page to post the aid received. “They are going to have to spend money to be able to comply. It's over the top and makes no sense," she adds.

Transparency highlights in the letter sent to the companies that their obligations are limited to 14 "much lower than the 120 of the Government of the Canary Islands or the 111 of councils and town halls."

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