• 16 April 2021

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    Posteado en : Interview

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    “Tax evasion is not only a cash issue but also an equity issue”

    The expert Fernando Peláez Longinotti, Head of the Economic-Tax Studies Area with the Uruguayan Tax Administration, tells us how the European Union's EUROsociAL+ programme , through its Democratic Governance area led by FIIAPP, is working together with the Paraguayan Tax Administration to reduce inequality by fighting against tax evasion.

    Why is the fight against tax evasion such a powerful tool in combating inequality?

    We are at a critical moment not only in the Latin American region but also at a global level in which there are latent fiscal needs. And tax systems produce results, but their full potential is never being realised, in any country. Therefore, it is necessary to see what type of actions we can carry out to maximise potential collection. Because evasion produces losses for the state and produces tax inequity, some pay more than others, it is not only a cash issue but an equity issue. It is a virtuous circle that we need to understand so the public administration can take action. Raising tax collection requires a relentless fight against fraud because it allows measures to be identified to prevent and reduce evasion levels and to improve the efficiency of public spending in providing public services, such as education and health. 

    What work have you carried out within the framework of EUROsociAL+ for the Paraguayan Subsecretariat of State for Taxation (SET) and what are its main conclusions? 

    Through a methodology developed by the Inter-American Tax Administrations Centre ( CIAT ), we measure noncompliance with corporate income tax to measure the trajectory and behaviour of the tax evasion rate in the country. Through this analysis, we were able to understand what percentage of potential tax is not being collected – which in the case of Paraguay is within the range of the countries in the region – and to see the trend relating to this phenomenon. In addition, through the analysis of microdata, specific cases could be identified with which the SET was able to take specific actions to increase collection from those companies. 

    Are there any differences in non-compliance between men and women regarding tax payments? 

    No, no differences. However, this work, in keeping with the gender mainstreaming of the EUROsociAL+ programme, adopted a unique approach strategy to include the gender perspective as it relates to tax evasion. The results revealed very useful data for the design of specific public policies to promote gender equality through female entrepreneurship. We saw that the proportion of women entrepreneurs is much smaller than that of male entrepreneurs, in a ratio of 35% women compared to 65% men, and that proportion is higher in some sectors such as agriculture, with a 1 to 9 ratio. On the other hand, there are sectors related to trades more traditionally linked to women where there is a greater representation of businesswomen, such as commerce, textiles and hospitality, where they represent more than 50%.  

    Furthermore, when analysing the average income level, it was determined that women are concentrated in the lower income levels. In conclusion, there are fewer women entrepreneurs, they have access barriers to certain sectors, and they have lower incomes. Of every 10 entrepreneurs in Paraguay, 3 are women compared to 7 men.  

  • 25 March 2021

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    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    The scars of gender-based violence are not always visible

    The head of the Human Rights and Equality Area of the National Police, Commissioner María Dolores López, analyses gender inequality and tells us about the work of the Police to combat this problem

    La comisaria Mª Dolores López, Jefa del Área de Derechos Humanos e Igualdad de la Policía Nacional

    A conversation on gender violence and the work of the National Police to combat it with the head of the Human Rights and Equality Area, Commissioner María Dolores López, with the collaboration of América Pérez, Chief Inspector of the National Office for Gender Equality and Leticia Matarranz, Chief Inspector of the National Human Rights Office. 

    Is there a specific kind of violence that is committed against women? If so, why? 

    Yes, there is a specific kind of violence against women, simply because they are women. It manifests itself as the most brutal symbol of the inequality existing in our society, which is historical and which constitutes one of the most flagrant assaults on human rights. 

    This violence is rooted in gender inequalities that have been present for centuries in our society through stereotypes, gender roles and sexist ideas that we have been falsely taught about men and women.  

    When talking about violence against women, is it important to emphasise that there is physical but also psychological violence? Would you say that there are other areas or forms of violence against women?

    Of course abuse is not always physical or only physical, and the scars are not always visible. It is important to bear in mind that in addition to physical abuse, there are other forms of violence, such as psychological, sexual, labour, economic, institutional and symbolic violence, which feed off the stereotypes, messages and values that they transmit and contribute to the continuing repetition of relationships based on inequality. There is now also talk of obstetric violence, where a person giving birth experiences mistreatment or disrespect of their rights, including being forced into procedures against their will, at the hands of medical personnel. Such violence has its roots in the disregard for women’s rights in a natural process such as childbirth and ends up affecting the right to privacy and physical integrity in some cases.  

    What role do public institutions, specifically the National Police, have in the fight against this problem?

    Public institutions have a transcendental role in the fight against this scourge, not only because the constitutional mandate imposes the obligation to promote the conditions for freedom and equality to be real and effective and to remove the obstacles that prevent it on the public powers or as a result of the international commitments assumed by Spain, such as the Istanbul Convention, but also because the State has a duty to protect all its citizens. Spain’s public institutions have assumed this obligation since the promulgation of Organic Law 1/2004, which was a pioneering advance in the comprehensive protection of women against structural inequality linked to the lack of economic, social and cultural protection, including the development of specific preventive strategies on the matter, with the approval of the State Pact against Gender Violence.   

    In addition, the National Police, as part of the public institutions, and reinforcing its commitment to the defence of human rights, and particularly against any violation of them for reasons of gender, has established the promotion of comprehensive police action in the field of violence against women is an essential objective within its Institutional Strategic Plans.  

    Could you give some examples of the work of the Police against this violence? 

    In this context of prevention and fight against gender violence, and in order to improve the quality of service for victims, within Spain’s National Police, the first care services for women were created in 1986, known as SAM, which evolved into today’s Units of Attention to the Family and Women (UFAM) under the Judicial Police Area. 

    Based on the recognition of the uniqueness and complex characteristics of gender violence, the UFAM are specialised units that constitute the comprehensive police response service for dealing with gender violence, domestic violence, crimes against sexual freedom and crimes committed against minors. 

    Do you consider that society is committed to fighting violence against women? 

    Of course, society plays a fundamental role in combating this violence. 

    Despite the fact that Spain is a pioneer country in eradicating gender violence in all its forms and that society is committed to its eradication, data shows that there is still much work to be done. For this, an institutional, political and social consensus is needed that shows a seamless commitment of all the institutions to Spanish society. 

    To carry this out, it would be necessary to promote awareness-raising actions on the damage caused by inequality and violent behaviour, as has happened in recent campaigns in which the focus has been on the abuser and the victim’s environment. 

    It is crucial for victims to receive external support in escaping a situation of gender violence, as women who suffer it feel humiliated, having been isolated and had their self-esteem undermined in advance by the perpetrators. Faced with this scenario, the family and the victim’s most intimate circle have a privileged position to advise her and, if necessary, accompany her to report.   

    Although awareness should begin in the early stages of childhood, through education transmitted by families and should be reinforced in schools through the promotion of relationships based on respect and equality. Only if we act from the beginning will the fruits of prevention and awareness be obtained. 

     

  • 25 February 2021

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    Posteado en : Interview

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    “The programme has enabled us to deepen of our expertise in energy efficiency”

    In this interview, José R. Rojo Rodríguez, General Director of the Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning of Cuba, tells us about the importance of the IRC and the cooperation work which they have been carrying out together with the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP

    José R. Rojo Rodríguez, General Director of the Cuban Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

    What is the Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning?

    The Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (IRC) is a national reference centre for the refrigeration sector in Cuba. Our corporate purpose is to provide scientific-technological services, conducting applied research in matters of refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation.  

    We have more than 40 years of experience providing specialised solutions in these areas, with a highly qualified professional staff that carries out projects that range from the project itself to the supplying and provision of specialised technical assistance, called “turnkey projects”.  

    What are your main areas of work?

    Our main activity consists of services for science and technological innovation works, in the national territory and abroad, technical assistance, feasibility studies, surveys, diagnoses, knowledge management and technological management by applying new technologies. We also carry out tests on refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, to certify its quality and verify its energy efficiency, both for national and foreign legal entities, provided that the latter are domiciled, established or authorised to operate in the country.  

    At IRC we also organise training sessions, technical events, seminars and conferences on refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation, and we carry out standardisation work, such as: development of quality specification standards, technical requirements and energy consumption rates and technological processes within these specialist areas, as well as marketing raw materials and idle materials.  

    Which IRC jobs would you highlight due to their relevance to energy efficiency in Cuba?

    At IRC, we have experience in developing turnkey projects for refrigeration facilities for different products and in different locations in Cuba, among which are the following: the Frigorífico San Pedrito with three freezing tunnels, the Contramaestre refrigerator for citrus fruits, the refrigerator of the Mariel Special Development Zone and the Camarones de Guajaca processing plant.  

    We also have laboratories that certify the quality of the refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that Cuba produces or imports and we run several specialised courses in refrigeration and air conditioning that can also be taught online through the GESTA virtual platform, the Centre for Business Management, Technical and Administrative Achievement of the Ministry of Industries of Cuba.   

    How is the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II  Programme supporting this issue? Could you mention some specific activities?

    IRC’s participation in the programme has enabled us to deepen our expertise along the lines of energy efficiency and the use of all residual energy sources. This has already made it possible to work on reducing energy consumption in facilities belonging to several organisations. Likewise, this experience and the knowledge acquired has multiplied and has reached more people through the courses given by our centre to all the personnel interested in these topics.  

    Support for the programme has been very important for us in facilitating the participation of 3 IRC specialists on a Master’s Degree in Energy Conversion Systems and Technologies, at the Rovira y Virgilio University of Tarragona, Spain, which has allowed us to raise the scientific level of our specialists. They are already preparing their final Master’s theses, which have also been linked to the issues we are working on with the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II Programme.  

    Within the framework of the Programme and in relation to this Master’s Degree, what results do you hope to obtain from this training?

    The participation of our specialists on the Master’s Degree will allow us to open new lines of work that will influence the use of residual energies to protect the environment and expand the use of renewable energies in refrigeration and air conditioning in our country. 

  • 04 February 2021

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    Posteado en : Interview

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    “We must be prepared to prevent attacks and this is why we train”

    The CT Public Spaces project, which is funded by the European Union, implemented by the Spanish Civil Guard and managed by FIIAPP, works on exchange, development and improvement related to the capacities of the professionals who are responsible for protecting public spaces in Senegal, Ghana and Kenya to strengthen their capacity to prevent and react to a possible terrorist threat.

    We interviewed four representatives of the Senegalese police and national gendarmerie to learn, first-hand, about the content and impact of the training they received at the Civil Guard Special Forces Training Park (PEFE) in Logroño. This initial training will result in a team of trainers who, upon their return to Dakar, will pass on what they have learned with the support of project specialists. 

    What are the objectives of this training course? 

    This is an exchange of experiences financed by European cooperation, thanks to which members of the Senegalese police and gendarmerie have been able to come to work alongside the Spanish Civil Guard. Upon our return from the training, we will be able to put the acquired knowledge into practice in Senegal and, in turn, we will become instructors to pass on what we have learned to our colleagues in Dakar.  

    What activities are carried out as part of the training and what do they consist of? 

    The CT Public Spaces project deals with eleven different themes. In this specific training, we have worked on two of them, which are a theoretical-practical programme for precision marksmen and another for handlers working with assault and explosives detection dogs.  

    How will the training received here be used back in Senegal? What practical application does it have? 

    Once back in Senegal we will include what we have learned here in the curriculum of the main training programmes. In all our centres there are elite marksmen and dog handlers, especially in the police and gendarmerie special forces centres, that frequently receive staff for training in both specialties. Of course, the latter will also receive the training. 

    Is the training received appropriate to the Senegalese context, in terms of fighting terrorism and protecting public spaces? 

    Our day-to-day work in Senegal includes counter-terrorism preparation. We must be prepared to prevent attacks and that is why we train accordingly. This is why the training courses we received will be very valuable, so that, if one day there is a terrorist threat, we will know how to deal with it. For precision marksmen it is very useful, since they are exposed on the front line when there is a terrorist threat, which is very important. In addition, all anti-terrorism units have dog handlers. It is a win-win situation. 

    What was the most important part or teaching point of the training received? 

    Everything is very useful and it is undoubtedly an exchange we all gain something from. What has impressed us a lot is the professionalism that our Spanish colleagues have shown, both when we work on the theoretical part and when we work on the practical part. Because, of course, it is important to study and understand the theory behind each exercise, but it is even more important to be extremely professional and rigorous when it comes to putting it into practice, to be able to bring the situation under control immediately and effectively. 

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  • 14 January 2021

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    Posteado en : Interview

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    “Exceptional times call for exceptional measures”

    We interview Fernando de la Cruz, democratic governance expert with the EUROsociAL+ programme at FIIAPP. He talks to us about the keys to an inclusive way out of the crisis that leaves no one behind.

    Fiscal policy is an invaluable tool for reducing inequalities, so it is vital to a programme like EUROsociAL+, which promotes social cohesion in Latin America. The public finance area of the European Union programme has participated in the Public Finance Laboratory organised by AECID.

    What is the Public Finance Laboratory, organised by AECID, that EUROsociAL took part in, and why is it being implemented at this time?

    The International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, has pointed out that after the impact of COVID, the world faces a global liquidity trap, which requires a decisive and forceful use of fiscal policy, and public spending in particular, in order to avoid the dangerous effects that this situation could have in the long term.

    One of the first to understand this situation was the European Commission, which months ago launched its massive public spending plan called Next Generation EU, designed to reactivate the European economic space.

    Faced with this situation, the Spanish Cooperation Training Centre (CFCE) in Montevideo has, through the AECID INTERCOONECTA platform, organised the “Laboratory on Public Expenditure in the Context of COVID-19” with the participation of the European Union’s EUROsociAL+ programme together with other institutions such as the OECD, ECLAC, the IDB and the IEF, a Fiscal Studies Institute dependent on the Spanish Government’s Finance Ministry and an ally of the Programme.

    This laboratory is part of Spanish cooperation’s joint response strategy against COVID and seeks, through the exchange of knowledge and experiences, to contribute to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of fiscal policies to achieve the harmonisation of domestic resources and meet the demands of citizens without leaving anyone behind. 

    What recommendations and lessons learned in the field of public spending has the EUROsociAL programme collected that are of vital importance for Latin America?

    First, at a global level, public spending must increase significantly. After a decade of monetary interventionism by the world’s main central banks, the impact of COVID has forced a greater amount of slack and monetary expansion (90% of developed countries have interest rates below 1%, 60% in the case of emerging countries).

    This situation has left central banks with little room for manoeuvre and forces the use of fiscal policy to lever the reactivation of the global economy. In this context, the bulk of international financial organisations are recommending a significant increase in public spending financed by cheap debt, increasing public deficits and the application of selective taxes on sectors that have best weathered the crisis. An environment like the current one, with low interest rates and growing fiscal multipliers, favours a sustainable expansion of public spending in order to avoid “secular stagnation”, that is, persistently low economic growth, which could last for decades.

    How can public spending be made more efficient? What sectors should it focus on?

    The increase in public spending should, in effect, be directed towards those sectors with the greatest impact on economic reactivation and the promotion of social cohesion.

    In the first instance, it seems essential that part of this increase in public spending be allocated to the health sector to strengthen the public capacity to face and limit the ravages generated by the coronavirus.

    In addition, in this first phase, automatic stabilisers have exercised a countercyclical function, however, this is not proving sufficient. It is therefore necessary to increase public investment in those sectors with the highest fiscal multipliers. There is a certain consensus that these sectors are those related to productive infrastructures, the different spheres of human capital (education, R&D, social protection) and reforms that improve institutional quality.

    Finally, this expansion must aim to correct the inequalities, already present in Latin America, that the COVID crisis has further exacerbated. In addition, these redistributive policies will make the increased economic growth more profound.

    Why is it important to strengthen public capacities to improve the quality of spending? How is the EUROsociAL programme actually doing this in practice?

    Because an increase in public spending cannot be carried out effectively if public capacities are not strengthened. When institutions are not strengthened and must increase their budgetary execution, phenomena such as inefficiency, misallocation and corruption can arise.

    To avoid these situations, it is necessary to strengthen public capacities in various fields, such as regulations, human resources, financing, training and incentives, among others. In addition, it is necessary to establish a clear and transparent framework in managing and accounting for the results achieved, so that the trust of citizens is reinforced with regard to institutions and their legitimacy for managing these resources.

    In this sense, at EUROsociAL+, particularly from the public finances aspect, we are trying to implement fiscal policies aimed at economic reactivation and the promotion of social cohesion.

    To do this, we are supporting the state of Guanajuato in Mexico in designing a new social policy that enables social spending to be increased and levels of poverty and inequality in the region to be reduced.

    In the area of spending effectiveness, we are supporting the “evaluation of public spending” and “mainstreaming the gender approach in results-based budgeting programmes” in countries such as Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Central America.

    Finally, regarding the strengthening of state capacities, the entire EUROsociAL+ governance area is working to strengthen institutional capacities in areas such as justice, territorial development and good governance.

     

  • 10 December 2020

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    Posteado en : Interview

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    FIIAPP expatriates: Diego Herrero de Egaña

    In this interview, Diego Herrero de Egaña tells how, during his time in Turkey, he has coordinated the twinning project for the training of fish producers financed by the European Union and managed by the FIIAPP.

    What has your adaptation to the country been like?

    I arrived in Turkey in April 2019 and the adaptation was relatively simple as it is a country with great similarities to Spain, from its climate to the kindness and hospitality of Turkish people. Everything has been very familiar. Turkey is a very easy country to live in and which Spanish people find easy to adapt to.

    What have been the easiest and the most difficult things to adapt to?

    The most difficult aspect in my case is being away from my family; however, apart from that, I have to say again that Turkey is an easy country for us, it’s not hard to get used to living here.

    The easiest part is that it is a wonderful and truly beautiful country, with a rich  Graeco-Latin and European culture. Together with the reception we have received throughout the country and the courtesy of its people, this makes visiting Turkey and getting to know the place a joy for anyone.

    Is this your first experience of living outside Spain? If not, is this mission proving to be very different to previous times?

    This is not my first experience outside of Spain, as more than half of my working life has been abroad, unfortunately. Where you are based plays a major part when making comparisons, as do your personal circumstances.

    The main problem that a Spaniard might encounter Turkey could well be the distance from Spain, because in every other aspect you feel completely at home. The truth is that it is very different from my other experiences, but more than anything else, this is due to it being a very easy country to live in. In other places where I have lived, this was not quite as clear.

    There is also a factor that has changed everything – SARS COV 2 that has affected all of us everywhere, our way of life, which has had a great influence on work in terms of the progress we have made with the project, as well as on the personnel side, since the fact we do not go to the ministry every day affects the constancy of relationships.

    What are your work and your daily routine like? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?

    With the onset of the virus, everything has changed everywhere. I now see my previous way of life as very removed from the present. It was very simple and straightforward, since it basically consisted of going to the Ministry of Agriculture and organising the project’s scheduled activities and actions in association with the Turkish ministry.

    Due to the special circumstances of this project regarding fisheries, I often have to travel along the Turkish coast, something I did not do in Spain. Throughout this project however we have carried out activities along the entire Turkish coast in various stages, holding two meetings a day in different places over the course of a week. It is like a group going on tour, covering thousands of kilometres in a minibus with a very tight schedule.

    How is your relationship with the FIIAPP team in Madrid and your colleagues in Turkey?

    I am fortunate to be able to say that it is very good. I have worked with very professional technicians all of whom have extensive experience. In such a complicated project, with the added complications of COVID-19, that is something that is very much appreciated. I also believe that I have a good relationship with the other FIIAPP technicians and the rest of the team.

    How would you rate your experience of working abroad for FIIAPP?

    Very positively. I think that working outside your country with people from a different culture is always a challenge, but it is also highly rewarding.

    With experience, you also come to understand that even with all the strengths that such a project has, you will still always be an outsider in another administration. You also have to ask for a lot of things and that obviously, creates tension that you have to learn to deal with.

    Do you have any stories that sum up your time in Turkey and how you have adapted?

    There are always lots of anecdotes to tell when you come to live in another country because almost everything catches your attention. Generally speaking, something that you do notice in Ankara is the honesty of the people here. It is inconceivable that a taxi driver would try to con you, or if you leave your phone or wallet in a cafeteria they will always keep it and give it back without having touched it, which is incredible.

    Regarding the world of work and the administration, the arrangement of the chairs in the offices is curious because first they are distributed to accommodate many people. What’s more, they are not arranged to face a visitor head-on but rather from the side.