José Luis Martínez-Almeida promised on the day his candidacy for Mayor of Madrid was officially presented that he would turn the capital into a tax-free enclave to attract investors and entrepreneurs. Just a month ago, the first mayor proclaimed at a conference in Murcia that it was necessary to “create opportunities to facilitate entrepreneurship” for talent “who arrives and says they want to stay.” Both he and the regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, boast of having created the necessary climate for entrepreneurs without bureaucracy and by lightening permits. In some cases, the Madrid administrations have replaced the procedures and licenses with a responsible declaration that the businessmen must sign. With that it is worth to start a business. That is the theory.
247 euros for a permit to cut down a tree felled by Filomena that had already been removed by a gardener
The practice is that people who want to start a company, start an economic activity in the city, are running face to face with the slowness of the local administration in a Madrid that is beginning to emerge from the pandemic.
For example, David. Its objective is to rent a place to set up a space for coworking. In the City Council they gave him the first face-to-face appointment at the Activities Agency for October. He applied for it at the end of July. “I could not wait that long, so I went to a private agency to resolve the doubts I had with the licenses and the procedures,” he explains in conversation with elDiario.es. This autonomous body “processes the necessary procedures for the start or modification of all economic activity that takes place in the city”, according to the City Council website.
The Urban Planning area, managed by Ciudadanos, admits that “there have been circumstances that could have caused some delay in certain cases, but this is not normal.” A spokeswoman relates these delays with the plaintiffs asking the Agency when their query – for example, the expansion of a terrace – is the responsibility of the districts. In the City Council they assure that telephone and telematic inquiries are resolved in “24 or 48 hours” and that the attention has increased from 14 to 18 a day. However, David’s wait, after contacting by mail, lasted a week. He had already managed the consultation on his own, paying for it. In the middle of August, face-to-face appointments are offered for mid-September.
The unions confirm that the bulk of municipal service employees are teleworking. “That makes it difficult to attend to citizens,” they point out from the Workers’ Commissions. To which is added the vacation period that reduces the workforce to a minimum in many sectors. The Activities Agency only attends in person (and by appointment) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“When it is your turn to do it, you find the opposite of the discourse that the Madrid Government maintains on entrepreneurship,” regrets David, who considers that presence in this service should be “essential” because “things are not there to delay issues related to doing business. ” He went first to the District Board – the Center, in this case – and there he was referred to the Activities Agency. “They did not answer the phone, so I sent an email to which they responded a week later when I had already consulted on another side, giving it up for lost,” he says.
Both PP and Ciudadanos took deregulation as one of the spearheads of the change of political color of the municipal government since their arrival at the Palacio de Cibeles. The Urban Planning delegate, Mariano Fuentes, promised that the administrative procedures would never again be “the stone in the shoe” and has implemented changes, in line with the Executive of the Community of Madrid, to minimize prior controls when granting an urban planning license as a way to speed up the procedures. Whether or not it complies with the regulations will be thoroughly reviewed a posteriori, in accordance with the modification of the Land Law promoted by Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s team. The local government has also approved a regulatory simplification plan focused on the same objective.
With the outbreak of the pandemic, both parties endorsed the motto of combining “economy and health” to avoid the closure of the hotel business, as happened in other autonomous communities, and the City Council has given thousands of licenses to extend the terraces. The rate for occupying the public space was also reduced to the owners and the IBI was reduced to the sectors most affected by the pandemic (also commerce). The aid to the self-employed, however, was budgeted at three million euros, an amount lower than much smaller towns such as Pozuelo de Alarcón. The aid to nightlife, the sector that has suffered the longest closure, has not given the expected result and the call has had to be extended this summer with broader criteria.