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Horta ,  September 04, 2013

Government of the Azores implements another support programme for Small and Medium Companies

The Vice-President of the Government said today that the financial sustainability and the constitutional prerogatives of the Region allow us "to follow a different course from the one the National Government imposes on others."

Sérgio Ávila defended that a "time of increased difficulties" demands from the Regional Government the best efforts to counter the "ruthless austerity measures that stifle the country's economic activity, causing the ruin of companies and leading families to despair."

The Vice-President spoke at a press conference held in the city of Horta, where he presented another support programme for micro, small and medium companies based in the Azores.

The initiative, designated as SME Training, is intended to make vocational training available for workers whose contracts have been suspended or with reduced working hours.

During this training programme, the Regional Government will finance companies in an amount equal to 30% of the compensation paid to each worker; the remaining 70% will be assured by the Social Security budget.

Since companies had to pay 30% of the compensations due to workers in the cases of suspension of contract or reduction of working hours, they will now be freed from this burden, which will be assumed by the Regional Government.

The SME Training programme covers the areas that are more dependent on seasonal demand - such as tourism, restaurant sector and traditional commerce - or those most affected by a cyclical reduction in demand, such as the construction sector.

"With this measure, we support companies in these sectors so that workers can keep their jobs in times of lower demand and, therefore, we intend to discourage seasonal unemployment by promoting employment stability," said Sérgio Ávila.

Bearing in mind that "increased job stability" is one of the major goals for this legislative period, the Vice-President of the Regional Government said that with this new programme, Small and Medium Companies will have the opportunity of "improving the qualification of their staff and boosting their competitiveness in the context of regional economy.”

Regarding workers, the programme is intended to "encourage the maintenance of legal employment relations and foster the improvement of their skills by keeping them active and making them better prepared to perform their tasks when resuming regular working hours. This measure also aims to assure the stability of salaries."

Furthermore, Sérgio Ávila stressed that the SME Training programme is another measure provided in the Azorean Agenda for Employment Creation and Business Competitiveness that have already been put into practice.

 Accordingly, the government official that several initiatives have been implemented in the past two months, including the Business Support Office, the Export Shop and the programmes to support the Revitalisation of Shops in Urban Centres and the promotion of Stable Employment.

Sérgio Ávila stressed that all these measures have entered into force "in compliance with the goal of tackling the effects of the current economic situation." In this context, the government official noted the emerging "positive signs," mentioning, for example, the decrease in the number of unemployed registered at regional unemployment centres for three consecutive months.
"It is not our goal - because we aspire to much more -, but it is good to know that nearly 1,200 Azoreans have found a job; however, we still consider that there are many unemployed Azoreans," said the government official.

For Sérgio Ávila, it is an "encouraging sign," which the Regional Government regards "without euphoria or exaggerated optimism." Nevertheless, the data reinforce "confidence in the path we chose to follow and give us the strength to move forward."

"But more than that, we have what is more important: we have the will to continue fighting for the Azores and the Azoreans," concluded the Vice-President.


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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