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Consell unlocks €630K for local freelancers and small business

foto 2021 ajudes autonomsThe Consell de Formentera made public details today about €630,000 in assistance to help self-employed Formentera residents and locally-based small businesses weather fallout from Covid-19 restrictions. The money will come in equal parts by local and regional government, with details posted yesterday in the Official Gazette of the Balearic Islands (BOIB). The applications period is now open and all submissions must be received by the end of the day 19 April. The Consell and Govern balear plan to expand the initial €300,000 aid package pending signature of a second accord and plenary approval of a budget retooling in early April.

“The aim of this aid is to increase liquidity and keep small businesses operational, because they’ve been among the hardest hit during the public health crisis, and are crucial to Formentera’s economic and social fabric”, said Alejandra Ferrer, who pointed out that multilateral discussions leading to the current aid package had included local business owners — a configuration the premiere asserted was key to advocating for the specific needs of Formentera tradespeople, and one she pledged would remain unchanged during the talks around a second round of soon-to-be-announced assistance from the Govern balear.

Ferrer was joined at the presentation by deputy premiere and commerce and entrepreneurship chief Ana Juan and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell, plus Josep Mayan, chairman of Formentera’s league of small- and medium-sized businesses (PIME); Juan Manuel Costa Escanellas, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and Lina Bustos, spokesperson for the Balearic Confederation of Business Groups (CAEB).

Ana Juan said discussions about who would receive the aid had included local business owners and insisted efforts had been made to bring the offer in line with the particularities and precise needs of Formentera’s freelancers and professionals. For instance, unlike in other places, aid on Formentera will be available to businesses with up to ten employees, and in a wide range sectors including artisans, tourism-related businesses, food service, retail, workshops and more.

For his part, Bartomeu Escandell said the expected add-on was designed to bring the assistance to as many freelancers and impresarios in as little time as possible.

Business representatives hailed the news and encouraged local small business owners to starting filling out their applications.

Funding between €1.5K and €7K
Three types of assistance have been established. The first totals €1,500 and is available to market merchants and freelance vendors without a physical shopfront who have paid freelancing dues at least three months from 14 March 2020 to January 2021. The second totals €2,500 and is available to businesses with a physical location and whose owners have paid business dues anywhere from three to six months. The third totals €3,500 and is available to businesses which have opened six months since emergency orders were enacted. In the first case, applicants (natural or legal persons alike) can receive no more than €1,500. However, in the second and third cases, they can receive up to €5,000 and €7,000 respectively if they have two establishments.

Applicants must have their workplace and tax domicile on the island to be eligible. Likewise, their annual average of employees must not exceed ten; annual turnover must remain under €600,000 and declared benefits in 2020 must not exceed €35,000 or invoicing in 2020 must have been at least 35% lower than in 2019. In addition, people who already received support as part of the one-off Covid-19 assistance package in July 2020 are not eligible.

Twenty working days to request aid online
To facilitate access and answer any questions, the Consell de Formentera is encouraging islanders to contact an information hotline at 971 32 10 87. Applicants have twenty working days from the day after the announcement of aid (up to and including 19 April) to make their request on the Virtual Citizen Information Office (OVAC). Complete information and details about terms will be posted to the Consell de Formentera website.

19 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera hosts gathering of council to coordinate Pine Islands police departments

foto 2021 consell de coordinacioRepresentatives of local police departments across Eivissa and Formentera gathered in the Consell de Formentera conference hall today for a meeting of the Coordinating Council for Local Police Departments (CCPPL). Presided over by Balearic Islands Institute of Public Safety director Vicenç Martorell and CCPPL deputy chair and chief of citizen safety in Santa Eulària des Riu Juan Carlos Rosselló, the encounter had a mix of in-person and online attendees, with regional director of emergencies Jaime Barceló tuning in virtually.

Formentera’s chief of interior, Josep Marí, welcomed participants. The CCPPL was conceived as a way to facilitate information sharing between police departments in the Pine Islands and hammer out joint policies and priorities. One motion brought before the CCPPL which received unanimous backing was a call for the Balearic School of Public Administration (EBAP) to host a one-off police training course on Eivissa to help would-be officers prepare for selective exams.

In addition to discussing internal work-related matters, attendees viewed a presentation about police management to coordinate law enforcement responses across the Balearic Islands.

18 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Alejandra Ferrer: “Tackling disparities means fair funding to account for insularity and respect regional tax system”

foto 2021 AF senat AConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer joined a conference hosted by Spain’s Senate today on the special situation of islands and peripheral cities such as Ceuta and Melilla. During remarks, the premiere praised senator Vicenç Vidal and all those who had worked to take Formentera and the Balearic Islands' plight as insular territories to the Senate floor, she said, pointing out that the smaller of the Pine Islands has no senator of its own — “a situation we hope to see remedied soon”, she added.

Ferrer began her address by describing Formentera and its idiosyncrasies to give legislators a sense of islanders’ everyday reality. She went on to enumerate the challenges inherent in an economy so heavily structured around a tourist season that starts in May and concludes in mid-October.

Before the Consell de Formentera existed, Ferrer pointed out that residents had long clamoured for their own government — “one that would let islanders defend hometown issues locally and ensure they enjoyed the same rights as the rest of Spain’s citizens”.

Since its founding, the island’s government has taken on a wide range of new functions, coming to guarantee many basic services like care for dependent individuals and people with functional diversity, not to mention working to promote inclusiveness in employment and society at large. “We implement specific plans and policies for gender equality, children and young people, but disparities remain because we continue to lack many crucial services”, Ferrer said, holding up examples of medical care like radiotherapy, haemodialysis and mental health services which, to obtain, Formentera residents must leave the island. “The same goes for central government services like paperwork processing for our foreign-born residents, or administrative formalities involving the courts, taxes, the treasury and social security, all of which must be done on the neighbouring island. Likewise, many local decisions are affected by the economic interests of other territories. Moorage and inter-island maritime travel, for example, are regulated by multiple agencies which are subject to pressure from lobbies who place their own benefits above the wellbeing of our island’s natural environment”.

Sustainable island
Ferrer also spoke to many local steps past and present to reduce the environmental footprint of tourism, citing protections for posidonia meadows, the island’s plastic bag ban, new e-vehicle recharge points and caps on vehicles during the high season, a scheme which is ultimately projected to cut local traffic 16% by 2023.

There is still a long way to go, Ferrer asserted, “not just protecting our land, but also in terms of guaranteeing basic human rights, especially in a year that has laid bare social inequity and, above all, economic precariousness”.

In that respect, the premiere called for fair funding for the islands: “The Balearic Islands generate wealth and constitute an economic engine, but the funding we receive isn’t commensurate: we’re at the bottom rung in terms of average per-capita investment from the central government”. Nevertheless, Ferrer trumpeted the recent announcement from Madrid that the archipelago would receive special aid for crisis-hit freelancers and business owners.

Triple insularity
Ferrer stressed that Formentera endures a situation of “triple insularity”, a fact entailing “disadvantages when it comes to travel, accessible basic services, goods transport, competitiveness, export capacity or internationalisation, meaning that for an island like Formentera, due to our size, population and geographical situation, diversifying our economy is extremely tricky; in this sense we share problems with rural mainland territories suffering depopulation”.

Ferrer cited problematic corollaries like a higher cost of living —Formentera residents pay an average of 30% more on basic goods than their neighbours across the archipelago— and stiffer than than average rates on desalinated water. Given demand is uniquely seasonal and critical mass of water users is very small, one tonne of water costs €1.96, more than anywhere in Spain and an expense which Formentera residents must pay entirely out of pocket.

Ferrer referred additionally to the housing crunch, saying, “Like the effects of our insularity, exorbitant prices and problems accessing affordable housing are magnified three-fold in our case: Formentera has no periphery, so everything is sold at high street prices”.

“Reverse discrimination is crucial to guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities, more competitive costs, aid to families of students who study off the island and funding to maintain services and infrastructure”, Ferrer added. “In practice, Formentera is part of the hinterland and should receive benefits similar to the Canary Islands at the European and national level”, she insisted.

Finally, Ferrer insisted the healthcare and social crisis had underscored economic fragility and social inequity in the islands, asserting, “If we want to tackle disparities, now more than ever, we need fair funding that reflects our geographical situation and particularities in the regions’ special tax regime”. “We’ll have to roll up our sleeves if we want to see the kind of economic diversification and recovery in the region that will enable us to be competitive in the future and guarantee social equity and islanders’ well-being and quality of life”, she concluded.

18 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

More than 500 pandemic-hit businesses and freelancers eligible for €12.4M in aid

foto 2021 visita armengol BConsell de Formentera premiere and regional first minister Francina Armengol met today with representatives of unions, industry groups and the local productive sector to discuss the central government’s plan, backed by the Council of Ministers, for direct aid to freelancers and businesses battered by the Covid-19 crisis. Also on hand at the gathering were deputy premiere and commerce chief Ana Juan and finance chief Bartomeu Escandell.

Armengol explained that the recently approved royal legislative decree would create €11 billion in assistance for struggling businesses in the following three areas:

-€3-billion credit restructuring fund backed and managed by the Official Credit Institute (ICO).

> The Balearic Islands could receive roughly €162M, with €4,760M (5.5% of the total) in a special ICO fund for Balearic businesses. Over 17,800 businesses could be eligible for more than 26,385 aid disbursements.

-A €1-billion recapitalisation fund for medium-sized businesses through public firm Cofides (highly anticipated by medium- and large-sized businesses whose turnover and operating costs are under €25M).

-A €7-billion regionally-administered fund for crisis-hit SMEs and freelancers.

Targetted aid for Balearics and Canaries
The central government has pledged to give the Balearic and Canary Islands regions €2 billion of the €7-billion direct aid package. Based on year-end comparisons of lost social security earnings in 2019 and 2020, the total for the Balearics will top €900 million.

The remaining direct funds will be distributed to other Spanish regions per REACT-EU criteria.

Eligible local businesses
As many as 554 locally-based firms stand to benefit from up to €12.4 million: 300 self-employed islanders, 227 businesses with fewer than ten employees and 27 with more than then.

The Consell premiere and regional first minister said distribution should reflect the particularities of Formentera and assure that “every business owner and self-employed individual who needs aid can request it”. Ferrer also said the requests should be done “collaboratively with the sector”.

Details of assistance
The money will be available to businesses and freelancers in the hospitality industry; sectors eligible for expanded furloughs based on Royal legislative decree 2/2021, and other particularly hard-hit sectors like commerce- and hospitality-related manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; transport offshoots; aeronautical maintenance, and businesses specialising in culture and sport.

Roughly one hundred professional activities qualify for assistance, which is designed to cover unaccounted for direct costs and debt between March 2020 and 31 May 2021.

Terms of eligibility:
-Up to €3,000 for self-employed individuals not paying taxes on the simplified “module-based” regime who cannot confirm Covid-related revenue losses.

-For other taxpaying businesses, the tax office will require a minimum 30% revenue loss between 2020 and 2021, offering up to €200,000 based on business category and lost revenue — criteria which Balearic and Canary Islands governments can opt to make more inclusive. Assistance will range from €4,000 to €200,000 per business.

To benefit, businesses cannot be headquartered in a tax haven and must not have filed for bankruptcy. They must be operational when aid is requested and must be current with tax and social security payments. They cannot distribute dividends or award board member pay rises for two years, and must remain in business until June 2022.

Current moratoria shall extend to 31 December so viable companies in normal market conditions have the legal means to employ staff and continue operating.

15 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera Local Police cite 19 at weekend

This Saturday Formentera Local Police cited 19 individuals at Es Cap de Barbaria sports pitch with violations of Covid-19 public heath orders. The individuals were engaged in multiple actions which are currently prohibited, including non-federated group contact sports and social gatherings of more than six individuals from two households, not to mention in violation of social distancing guidelines. FLP detected the infractions with the department drone.

15 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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