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Angra do Heroísmo ,  June 26, 2020

Regional Government creates seven new measures for progressive recovery of economic activity and maintenance of employment

The Vice-President of the Government announced in Angra do Heroísmo a new set of measures to support the economy and employment in the Region that were created by the Regional Government as part of the strategy to increase the progressive recovery of economic activity. 

These are seven new support measures for companies aimed at reinforcing the incentive to maintain jobs and, consequently, to guarantee the income of workers, which will be implemented immediately. 

"The goal is to create new support for companies in the progressive transition to an economic recovery, taking into account that there are sectors where this recovery will be more gradual and prolonged," stressed Sérgio Ávila at a press conference. 

Hence, the Regional Incentive to the Normalisation of Economic Activity aims to decisively stimulate the recovery of the economy, increasing the support for the maintenance of companies that resume their normal activity after layoff and that maintain jobs. 

"This new measure is directed to companies that have benefited from Simplified Layoff and intends to support companies resuming their activity after the end of Simplified Layoff, ensuring the maintenance of jobs," said the Vice-President. 

The Regional Incentive to the Normalisation of Economic Activity comprises two types of support. The first component provides for additional support corresponding to the amount of two regional minimum wages for each worker covered by the Simplified Layoff or the Extraordinary Qualification Measure (MEQ), when the length of the entity's layoff period has been equal to or greater than three months. 

In the event that the length of the company's Simplified Layoff has been less than three months, the amount of support will correspond proportionally to the period the company has been in layoff. 

In practice, payment will be phased over six months, half of the amount will be paid when the company finishes the layoff and the remaining 50% in September and December of this year. In turn, companies are required to maintain the same level of employment during, at least, eight more months after the end of Simplified Layoff. 

Additionally, companies will also benefit from the partial exemption of 50% of the payment of its Social Security contributions in the case of laid off workers up to three months after the layoff, depending on the period in which the company was in layoff. 

The second component provides for additional support amounting to the regional minimum wage for each worker in Simplified Layoff. It applies to cases when the entity's layoff length has been equal to or greater than one month, provided that the company maintains jobs until the end of year. 

For Sérgio Ávila, this measure corresponds to a strong incentive for companies to resume their normal activity, taking into account that the Regional Government will guarantee additional support of up to two regional minimum wages for each worker, after the end of layoff, in addition to authorising the reduction of Social Security charges by 50%. 

“With this new measure, the conditions are created for companies to resume their business activity with significantly reduced charges with their workers in the first months of activity, as long as they keep their jobs. In addition to guaranteeing job stability, it will provide for the full payment of workers' salaries," stressed the government official. 

In his speech, the Vice-President also announced that the Regional Government has decided to extend the Regional Supplement to Simplified Layoff until the end of July. With this measure, the Government will continue to grant companies additional support to the measures established at national level. It will correspond to 83% of the company's financial charges with each worker, having as reference the regional minimum wage.

"This additional financial support will also take the form of a non-repayable subsidy, if companies maintain the same level of employment until the end of the year," added the government official. 

As of August, the Regional Government will implement the Regional Complement to Normal Layoff, taking into consideration that not all sectors of activity are still able to return to their normal activity with all workers by the end of July. 

"This new supplement will cover companies benefiting from the extension of the Simplified Layoff measure that are not yet in a position to resume their normal activity as of August," said Sérgio Ávila. 

In fact, the Regional Government will allocate financial support corresponding to half of the company's financial charges with each laid off worker, whereas the company will only pay the amount corresponding to 15% of each worker's salary as long as it maintains all workers. This measure enters into force in August and has as reference the regional minimum work. 

The set of new measures also includes additional support to be directly granted to workers taking part in vocational training initiatives. The amount corresponds to 15% of the regional minimum wage, plus the meal allowance. From August, it will increase the income of laid off workers, while encouraging their training and professional qualification. 

The Regional Government intends to encourage companies to integrate their workers into training and professional qualification plans. In these situations, it will fully bear the costs incurred by companies, having as reference the regional minimum wage. 

With this innovative measure, the government official stressed that the Regional Government ensures that companies in layoff, as of August, may not incur in costs with the maintenance of workers if they integrate them into training and qualification plans. In this context, workers will receive a higher payment than they would receive if they were in layoff. 

For this purpose, companies will have to maintain their workers until March 31, 2021. 

"For the Regional Government, the preservation of employment is absolutely fundamental and, therefore, we want to ensure that all conditions are created to guarantee that this goal is achieved adequately, quickly and effectively," said the Vice-President.
The new Qualifica+ measure continues a strategy aimed at promoting the qualification of the human resources of companies at a time of economic recovery.
Accordingly, Sérgio Ávila noted that workers can strengthen their skills in strategic training areas, with this period of reduced activity corresponding to the enhancement of workers' professional skills. 
“This new measure is intended to boost the creation of synergies between vocational training schools and companies in the Region. In this regard, the Regional Government provides a package of more than 100 training initiatives directed to workers from companies with reduced activity, through regional vocational training schools, representing an additional investment of 2.5 million Euros," said the government official.
Regarding the promotion of private investment in this period of economic recovery, Sérgio Ávila announced that the Regional Government has decided to increase the non-refundable share of private investments carried out in the tourism sector under Competir+ by 10%. 

In order to encourage and strongly support the acceleration of economic dynamics, the Regional Government will introduce an amendment to the Incentive System for Business Competitiveness, Competir+, for the implementation of projects in the tourism sector.

According to the Vice-President, this amendment provides for a 10% increase in the non-refundable incentive rate for the implementation of private investments, whose expenditure is made between April 1 and December 31, 2020, in activities related to tourism, such as hotels, accommodation, restaurants and tourist entertainment. 

The government official stated that the aim is to reinforce the incentive to carry out business investments related to tourism, thus increasing support for companies that continue to invest in tourism in the Region. 

On the occasion, the Vice-President also announced that the Regional Government has decided to increase the support directed to companies in the tourism sector under the Employment Maintenance Program in order to further encourage the maintenance of employment and support companies in sectors related to tourism. 

"Bearing this goal in mind, the Regional Government will extend the job maintenance support for each worker to nine months in order to help companies in the tourism sector to maintain jobs until the end of this year," stressed the Vice-President. 

In turn, the Support Programme for Restaurants and Hotels is aimed at the acquisition of Azorean bearing the Azores Brand seal, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 in this sector, “so that it may resume, with hope and confidence, the path that had been in progress,” noted Sérgio Ávila. 

For this purpose, the Regional Government has decided to double the percentage of support granted to hotels and restaurants for the acquisition of products bearing the Azores Brand seal. This measure ensures an increase in the reimbursement rate to double the current rate for Azores Brand products purchased between April 1 and December 31, 2020

Accordingly, the financial support will be set at 20% of the cost of purchasing Azores brand products. 

It will be increased to 28% in the case of regional products distinguished with the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Controlled Designation of Origin (CDO) or the Azores Handicrafts certification. 

For Sérgio Ávila, the Regional Government is once again undertaking a huge financial effort through these new seven measures, putting into practice a high priority plan for this new phase of adaptation and balanced transition, so that economic activity is resumed, gradually, in a safe environment

"In the pursuit of a sustained economic recovery, the Regional Government fulfils the commitments made with Azorean families and companies, implementing innovative and extraordinary support measures that bring added advantages compared to the country," said 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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