Chamber of Tradesmen and Craftsmen President requests appropriate financing for all businesses
Antonis Gravanis, President of the Rhodope Chamber of Craftsmen and the Central Union of Chambers of Greece and Chairman of the ESPA Subsidized Programs Commission, wrote to the Minister of Agriculture and Development Giorgos Georgandas, requesting appropriate financing for all businesses in the new LEADER program.
President Gravanis demanded from Minister Georgandas that enterprises processing agricultural products that are not produced in the intervention area, food and beverage and touristic accommodation enterprises to be entitled to financing from the new LEADER and to increase the budget limit per project.
Letter in detail:
We express our disagreement on the main issues that arise in the context of the call for proposals for the selection of Local Development strategies on the initiative of local communities. (P3-77-4.1 "LOCAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT THROUGH LEADER (TAPTOK - LOCAL DEVELOPMENT BY LOCAL COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE)" in the 2023-2027 COMMON RURAL POLICY STRATEGIC PLAN)
1) The initial introduction of processing restrictions that contradict the purpose of establishing and operating the program and exclude the implementation of investment projects in rural areas. Specifically, those that will only process products produced in the response area are eligible for farms that process agricultural products, meaning that the vast majority of farms are EXCLUDED. So, for example, a business that produces tahini in the Rhodope settlement and supplies raw materials from Evros is excluded from the subsidy. We demand that this restriction be lifted.
2) Regarding agro-tourism businesses (accommodation and catering), the restriction of suitability ONLY in mountainous areas should be lifted and they should be appropriate throughout the intervention area, as practiced in the last thirty years
3) It is envisaged that the maximum budget per investment project (including private capital) will be reduced from 600,000 euros of the current LIDER to 400,000 euros for investments in the processing of agricultural products and to 300,000 euros for other investments. The percentage reduction of the maximum budget came to 33.3% and 50%. This reduction makes starting a business almost impossible, as start-up costs far exceed the above limits. As in the current program, the maximum allowed total budget should be set at 600,000 euros. Thus, it should be possible to establish sustainable businesses that face the increase in inflation and the increase in construction costs.
As representatives of the country's business community and government advisers on entrepreneurship issues, we would like to inform you of the extraordinary importance of LEADER programs over time in the development of very small and small businesses in rural, disadvantaged, and mountainous areas.
The size of these businesses was a deterrent to participation in other financial programs. It was therefore a specific one-way street for businesses to start and stay in these areas.
These restrictions are extremely problematic, especially at a time when businesses are struggling to survive. We want all businesses in the secondary and tertiary sector to be eligible for financial support, to stay in mountainous, rural and disadvantaged areas and, above all, to achieve the local development goal."