HUERCAL-OVERA council is making readjustments to the municipal budget it had planned to take to a plenary meeting this month with a view to trying to alleviate the financial hit of the coronavirus crisis on local businesses.
“The government team is aware that at this time the priority is to safeguard public health and strictly comply with the prevention measures to minimise the spread of the virus”, explained Huercal-Overa Mayor Francisca Lourdes Fernandez.
At the same time, while acknowledging that local authorities have what the council referred to as “limited margin for manoeuvre”, the Mayor maintained “we have to activate policies which help to ease the negative effects this crisis is having on the local economy, given that there are many businesses which have been forced to close due to this situation of uncertainty which we don’t know how long will last.”
Fernandez said the council is weighing up the possibility of including a specific section in the budget of “economic assistance and incentives for local traders, for small businesses and for the self-employed to make it easier to overcome this crisis, supporting the numerous families there are behind these businesses.”
In addition, the Finance councillor is studying the relaxation of the fiscal bylaw on occupying a public way and other municipal taxes to boost the reactivation of the local economy.
As an immediate step, the council has ordered the beginning of the process of suspending direct debits and periodic payments of the municipal taxes which are the administration’s responsibility, on sports and weekly market payments, and the return of payments made for municipal sports schools, workshops, public way occupation and other taxes corresponding to the period in which the state of alarm is in force.
The local authority’s Economy and Trade department is meanwhile working on drawing up new lines of support and incentives for the businesses affected by the health crisis, again within the scope of municipal responsibility. The council said the measures have to be complementary to those launched by the Andalucia and Spanish governments.
The readjustment of the municipal budget will also affect the area of Social Services, with a likely increase in the section for support programmes for the most vulnerable families and groups and a greater contribution for new community social promotion and prevention programmes aimed at creating equal opportunities and social cohesion.
The Mayor repeated her gratitude to municipal residents for acting responsibly and for their solidarity at these difficult times. She said her administration had to be up to dealing with the exceptional circumstances, not only at this critical period, during which local emergency plan measures have been activated, but in planning effective economic and social support and reactivation actions which benefit municipal families and businesses in the medium and long-term.