The Almeria chamber of commerce (CCA) has said that due to the Authorities (townhalls and the Diputación, mainly) not paying bills on time, “at least” 3,000 full time jobs have been destroyed in the province. They added that at least 70 companies have been forced to close due to mounting debts.
The President of the CCA says small and family buisnesses are owed about 150 million euros in unpaid bills. The figures include not just small companies that are directly owed money by the townhall, but subcontractors who work for larger consortiums but who don’t get paid until they do.
According to the Asociación de empresas subcontratistas de obra pública, the average pagaré (post dated cheque) is being signed for 400 days in advance, which means these funds cannot be drawn upon for over a year (!)
The CCA has drawn up a list of the biggest defaulting townhalls -which has not been made public- and has sent it to the Public Prosecutor along with an allegation that these late payments are against the law governing the contracting of public works. The CCA is asking for a government investigation into these late payments, and for the Judicial system to ensure that contractors are paid within the terms laid down by the law. Failing that, they add, they woud be content with some sort of bank guarantee to allow small companies to draw funds against promised government payments.
This leads on from my post yesterday, where I posted the amount owed by townhalls to the banks; figures which don’t take into account the unpaid and mounting bills accumulated by cashstrapped townhalls. I know of several people around here who have lost their maquinas because they weren’t able to keep up the finance payments, due to unpaid bills by the townhalls (Sorbas is a notable case).
In the boom days, a townhall would contract out a work -say, the building of a football field- to company X. Company X would then hire in subcontractors to carry out different aspects of the work. These subcontractors would usually be self employed autonomos who owned a specific machine (maquina) and who touted for work round all the contractors. So while the employed builders of Company X might build the walls around the football field, Diego would level the machine with his bulldozer, Jose would bring in the gravel with his lorry, Pepe would roll it all out with his steam roller, etc. Trouble is, until Company X got the cash, Diego, Jose and Pepe don’t get paid, and have no way of convincing the banks that they ever would get paid.