An unprecedented campaign to encourage businesses to take a stance against the shackles of Portuguese bureaucracy already has the support of nearly 140 companies, with a combined annual turnover of more than €198 million.
Algarve entrepreneur Karl Heinz Stock (pictured), who spearheaded the ‘Let Us Breathe’ campaign, wants to reach a target national figure of €1 billion to show the government that urgent action needs to be taken against the hurdles of red tape if businesses are to survive the economic crisis and be encouraged to invest in Portugal.
“This regulatory and bureaucratic element of the Portuguese government is a relic of the days of dictatorship and is bringing the country to its knees,” the German businessman told the Algarve Resident in a recent interview.
Karl Heinz Stock, who has interests in Portugal ranging from wine and art to stone, property development, tourism, media and service companies, said: “Businesses are already being starved by externally influenced austerity measures and by the pervading market conditions, circumstances that we can influence only to some extent. But almost the same damage to the backbone of the economy – the small and medium sized companies – is caused by internal homemade bureaucracy and mistrust which is simultaneously strangling us.”
After only a few weeks of campaigning, Karl Heinz Stock has seen support from businesses grow beyond his expectations. More and more companies are joining the initiative by the day through a recently-launched website – deixemnosrespirar.com – that calls on entrepreneurs in Portugal to make their voices heard and demand less bureaucracy.
“It is time for the government to listen to the private sector and to place a little trust in us, as they do in other civilised countries,” said Karl Heinz Stock, adding that in the current economic environment, the powers-that-be should do all they can to assist businesses, not handicap them further.
“My goal is to raise awareness about the needs of businesses. Waiting for reforms to be implemented is no alternative. We must take a stance and advise those in power about our needs,” he continued.
“It is not the public workers who need a reformation, but the system itself must be reformed which, as a result, will change the attitude of people.”
The online platform works as a kind of online petition, listing the companies who join the campaign and summing up their combined turnover in order to motivate the responsible parties to take notice.
National and local media have been taking quite an interest in Karl Heinz Stock’s campaign – the businessman was recently interviewed on prime time television by RTP and a slot is currently being arranged with SIC television.
“The primary role of government, which seems to have been lost in Portugal, is assistance; bureaucracy and mistrust have to be reduced and finally eliminated,” concluded Karl Heinz Stock.