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Government’s ‘zero licensing’ cuts red tape but raises fines

piresdelimaThe expansion of the Portuguese Government's new ‘zero licensing’ regime will strengthen the monitoring of restaurants and service sector businesses while at the same time raising the upper limit for fines.

The Economy Minister Pires de Lima today called for a change in the way the state sees businesses but local councils see their incomes dropping further as the state cancels or takes over much of their role in regulating local businesses.

The government today approved the bill to simplify the regulatory burden for companies which includes the reduction and elimination of some fees currently charged to business owners.

At the same time as loosening red tape there will be a strengthening of monotoring of companies and a sharp increase in the level of fines for transgressors. The bill will now head to the National Assembly for debate.

"The purpose of this bill is clear, to head towards zero licensing and establish a paradigm shift in the way the state sees entrepreneurship," said Pires de Lima, Minister for the Economy, at the end of today’s meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The Government is to rely on the initiative of entrepreneurs and businesses to follow the rules, after which they will be subject to control by the competent authorities, including local councils, said Pires de Lima.

The proposed changes were not well received by local councils due to lost revenue from the proposed reduction or elimination of some local business taxes. Coucils also are stripped of their role in commercial licensing.

The National Association of Portuguese Municipalities gave the thumbs down to the proposal and called for new suggestions from the government.

The Confederation of Trade and Services expressed concern about the reduction and elimination of taxes which are essential in funding the Commerce Modernisation Fund established to support struggling buisnesses.

According to the statement of the Council of Ministers, the bill aims to create "a new, simpler and more understandable legal framework that attracts new investors and generates new projects for established entrepreneurs."

Pires de Lima comes from a business background having previously run the drinks company Unicer, brewer of Super Bock. He supported the reduction of the 23% VAT rate for restaurants which was defeated in parliament, an early blow for the new Minister, but his current support of the 'zero licencing' programme see him in his element, cutting red tape and doing away with many senseless local rules and regulations that bedevils many business owners and gives local councils powers that have all too often been abused in the past. 

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+1 #1 Sarah Jones 2014-03-21 11:22
Two fundamentally opposing forces here ... my money is on the power to stop new businesses competing with existing ones in concelho's - remaining with the Municipals.
(establish a paradigm shift in the way the state sees entrepreneurship....proposed changes were not well received by local councils)
Apart from grease the municipal presidents supply local voters to vote in the regional and national politicians.
So - don't expect change there!

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