The Spanish government is mulling additional economic measures to ease the situation facing thousands of companies badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the hotel, restaurant, and catering (HORECA) sectors. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.
Economy and Digital Transformation Minister Nadia Calviño has stressed that the government is considering the implementation of additional measures to mitigate the heavy impact of the pandemic and to “reinforce the solvency of firms”.
Tourism is one of Spain’s key economic drivers. According to official data, it accounts for 12.4% of the country’s total GDP, and 12.9% of all jobs, according to the Spanish National Statistical Office (INE).
However, in a conference held Monday evening (8 February) in Madrid, Calviño warned that any extra measures would have to receive first the European Commission’s green light.
“Our priority is to avoid the over-indebtedness” that is directly affecting many Spanish companies since March last year, said Calviño. “In the coming weeks, decisions will be taken”, the minister added.
Extension of a debt moratorium?
On the other hand, the minister did not exclude an extension of the current debt moratorium scheme, banning creditors of companies from filing for insolvency proceedings, which expires on 14 March.
Calviño pointed out that the government, a coalition of socialists of the PSOE and left-wing Unidas Podemos (United We Can), needs to analyse the impact and consequences of the moratorium. The objective, she stressed, is to solve the problem (of the companies affected) and “not to postpone it”, EFE reported.
The economic side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain have been devastating for the country’s vulnerable labour market as almost 623,000 people lost their job last year, according to data released on 28 January by the INE. The unemployment rate stood at 16.13% as of December 2020.
Gloomy outlook for Easter
The tourism sector has abandoned hopes of a recovery in Easter, for the second year in a row.
“The outlook for Easter is practically zero. As of today, we have a 50% drop in bookings for the summer compared to what would be a normal year at this time for our hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa”, stressed a spokesperson of the Barceló Group, one of Spain’s biggest tour operators, quoted by financial daily Cinco Días.
[Edited by Daniel Eck]