Portugal’s IVAucher mechanism to help hospitality and culture begins today

Portugal’s much-touted IVAucher mechanism to stimulate consumption in the hospitality and culture sectors begins today, with the government setting aside an initial €200 million to finance it. 

Business people working in restaurants, accommodation and culture have ‘welcomed’ the idea, but fear it falls short of requirements. 

It will however benefit consumers. This is how it works:

  1. On paying a bill at any establishment displaying an IVAucher ‘selo’ (stamp), customers must give their NIF (fiscal number) so that the IVA on that bill can ‘accumulate’ (on a platform designed for this purpose) to be used in the autumn by way of discounts on purchases within these sectors.
  2. In September, the amount of money ‘accumulated’ has to be ‘validated’ online.
  3. Between October 1 and December 31, the accumulated money can be used, in the form of up to 50% in discounts on purchases.

Explain reports, it will be perfectly feasible to use credit obtained through meals, or hotel stays, on theatre tickets or even books.

The accumulation of IVA spent in hospitality and culture is automatic, but people have to ‘adhere to the programme’ to make this happen (click here). Signing up to the programme is free.

Payments can be made in any way (cash, cards etc.) but when it comes to benefitting from discounts, all payments must be with a bank card, details of which people will be asked to register when they sign up.

This is the nuts-and-bolts of how the programme works. The government has said that depending on how popular it is, more money may be allocated to it.

The whole idea is to power the recovery of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, finance minister João Leão has explained.

The relatively lukewarm response by the sectors themselves stems from the fact that they fear recovery will need a great deal more than an IVAucher mechanism

When it comes to restaurants, for example, Daniel Serra – president of PRO.VAR – has said that his sector would like to see limits imposed on when the IVAucher discounts can be used. Ideally, if their use could be limited to Mondays -Thursdays – the days of least activity – it would benefit them much more than if it could be used indiscriminately. It would also take the pressure off weekends, he said.

For now, it’s early days. Consumers have to feel interested enough to sign up to the initiative. 

One positive message is that the government is looking at autumn as a time when people will (still) be free to go out to restaurants,  theatres, stay in hotels and guest houses. It suggests the spectre of future lockdowns may be at last being put into a back drawer.

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