No fines yet for distributors

The highly controversial law to control the transport of goods, which requires mandatory prior communication with the tax authorities, came into force this week with limited impact to the business community as fines for non-compliance will only be imposed from October 15.

The new rules are described by entrepreneurs in the distribution sector as “too complicated and a glaring example of Portugal’s excessive red tape” and are considered a serious obstacle to productivity.

The regime has also been slammed by various business groups, led by the Algarve-based initiative ‘Deixem-nos Respirar’ (Let us Breathe), started by German entrepreneur Karl Heinz Stock, in reaction to increasingly counter-productive and bureaucratic government regulations. He feels the latest decision by the government is “an important step in the right direction” – the abolishment of the regime.

From this month, businesses with an annual turnover equal or over €100,000 are obliged, prior to transporting the goods, to communicate with the tax authorities, via the Finanças website, in order to obtain an identification code that should be added to the transport documentation (guias de transporte) to be carried by the driver.

However, no fines will be imposed for the lack of the necessary documentation and Finanças’ code until October 15, to give businesses the chance to adapt to the new rules.

This is seen by the ‘Let Us Breathe’ campaign as another “successful step in the fight against this archaic ‘new’ regime”.

According to Karl Heinz Stock, this decision will avoid productivity losses for the Portuguese economy to the tune of €200 million. “The elimination of the system of ‘Guias’ itself would actually avoid, for the same period, productivity losses of between €400 million and €500 million,” said Mr Stock, adding that the “last minute” decision by the government was “very brave and wise”, and certainly causing controversial discussions between progressive and conservative forces in government and administration.

The entrepreneur now hopes for the complete abolishment of the ‘guias de transporte’ regime in order to “alleviate” businesses from a further burden.

“The government must find new measures to combat the parallel economy and tax evasion without jeopardising honest business owners,” he concluded.