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Angra do Heroísmo ,  March 19, 2020

Press release from the Regional Government of the Azores

"Today we are living in exceptional circumstances that entail the adoption of exceptional measures to provide immediate support to the economy as well as to the maintenance of employment and workers' income. 

In this context, the Government of the Azores, in conjunction with the Working Group created for this purpose, has been monitoring, since the very first hour, the evolution of the economic situation and the potential impacts on the regional economy arising from this worldwide pandemic. 

We are fully committed to permanently adopting the measures deemed necessary, within the reach of our resources and our powers, to minimise the consequences of this pandemic on the regional economy and on the maintenance of employment and workers' income.
With the aim of rationalising and optimising resources and creating the most effective and efficient responses possible, we will coordinate the new measures, which we will announce today, with the measures announced yesterday by the National Government.

In ensuring that the measures announced yesterday apply directly to the Region, we can, therefore, immediately create new specific measures for the Azores which, complementing national measures, will reinforce the support to the economy, companies, businesses and regional workers.

Hence, from now on, we can implement, in a complementary and coordinated manner, the reinforcement of support, creating a wide range of measures that, making full use of national aid, will enable us to go further and extend support in the Region.

The regional measures that reinforce these support mechanisms aim to encourage efforts to maintain economic activity with the clear goal of stimulating, encouraging and decisively supporting the maintenance of employment in the Region. 

This is the message we would like to convey to the Azorean companies and their workers at this moment. The Government of the Azores presents a series of measures with the aim of providing a strong incentive and stimulus to the most affected sectors of activity so that they can maintain the employment levels prior to the beginning of this pandemic.  

We have created this first set of measures to encourage the most affected Azorean companies to keep their workers employed. 

In reinforcing national aid with regional support measures, we intend to create the necessary incentive conditions for companies to maintain their workers and their level of employment. Encouraging, rewarding and strongly supporting Azorean companies to maintain their employment levels for this year are the key goal of the measures we are announcing and the challenge we launch to regional companies and workers.
For this purpose, we have approved a Support Line for the Maintenance of Employment, which intends to support companies in repaying the funds granted through the lines of credit created nationwide for the sectors of activity currently most affected by the substantial reduction of sales. 

This measure is based on the principle that, as lines of credit are essential to ensuring the liquidity of companies in coming months, they will then involve an additional effort to repay and amortise loans.

In this regard, the Government of the Azores complements this liquidity support with strong support and encouragement to companies so that they can benefit from this measure while maintaining their employment levels and their workers. 

Accordingly, the Government of the Azores will finance Azorean companies that benefit from the recently created lines of credit, with additional non-refundable support corresponding to 5.2 minimum wages per worker for companies with less than 10 workers; 3.6 minimum wages per worker for small and medium-sized companies and 2.4 minimum wages per worker for large companies. 

In terms of regional support, the amount corresponding to the employer's Social Security charges will be added up to these figures. 

This non-refundable support will be allocated to all companies that maintain by the end of this year the level of employment they registered, on average, in the last three months. It will cover the companies whose economic activities are eligible under the lines of credit created for liquidity support, provided they have benefited from this measure. 

Hence, Azorean companies carrying out economic activities eligible under the national lines of credit for liquidity support that have used them will benefit from substantial support in the settlement of these loans, if they maintain employment levels by the end of this year. 

This is a strong incentive and support for companies to maintain workers and their jobs at this difficult time. 

In order to ensure the rapid liquidity of companies, before the implementation of these lines of credit, and to support companies in the payment of next month's salaries, the Government of the Azores has created another urgent measure to support the liquidity of companies in terms of wage payments.

Under this measure, the Government of the Azores will also allocate, next month, financial support in the form of a reimbursable advance payment to companies from the sectors of activity with abrupt reduction of sales.

The amount will correspond to 90% of the minimum wage per worker in order to support the payment of workers' salaries in April.

This anticipated liquidity measure to help companies meeting staff costs is also a strong incentive for the maintenance of their workers.

It extends its scope regarding the national lines of credit and is aimed at sectors of activity that already register substantial reductions in sales, namely trade, with the exception of the trade sectors that maintain their level of employment.

It will also cover the sectors of tourism, complementary activities to tourism, hospitality and restaurants. 

A third structural measure we approve concerns the creation of a regional complement to the simplified layoff scheme that was implemented yesterday.

With this measure, the Government of the Azores also supports companies resorting to this employment maintenance mechanism with temporary suspension of activity, through the allocation of an additional subsidy to that established at national level.

In the first month, the Region will fully subsidise the company's payments, which will drop to 83% in the second month and 66% in the third month. The amounts to be paid will have as reference the regional minimum wage. 

This support will be transformed into a non-refundable subsidy if the company maintains the level of employment until the end of the year, thus creating another incentive for companies to maintain employment. 

The measure will cover companies from all sectors of activity that meet the requirements of the COVID-19 simplified national layoff support mechanism.

With the aim of increasing the liquidity of companies registering drops in their business volume, the Government of the Azores has also decided to suspend the payment of funds granted under investment incentive schemes whose deadline expires this year.

These measures will reduce the financial burden on companies for this year and their financial commitments to the Region.

In this regard, the stipulated periods for the allocation of subsidies to companies under the recruitment support measures currently in force will be brought forward, thus anticipating the support to companies. 

The seventh approved measure provides for a Special Worker Placement Programme (CET), supporting companies through the replacement of absent workers due to quarantine, prophylactic isolation, support for underage children and sick leave for COVID-19 disease. 

This measure enables companies to maintain their activity in the sectors where this is justified, without increased costs for companies when they need to replace workers in the aforementioned situations. 

With this financial effort undertaken through seven measures, the Government of the Azores intends to complement and reinforce the measures to support the economy and the maintenance of employment implemented at national level. Hence, the combination of efforts will increase the liquidity support for companies, namely micro, small and medium-sized companies, and the income workers and families who already feel the strong impact of the economic consequences of COVID-19. 

This is a first step and we will be constantly following the uncertain evolution of this situation in the certainty that we will do everything within the reach of our resources and our powers to mitigate its effects and overcome the challenges that lie ahead with determination and responsibility, and with all Azoreans. 

In order to contribute to the dissemination of these measures, we inform that the RIAC Citizen Support Line (800 500 501) will be available from Friday, March 20, to inform all Azoreans about these measures."


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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