16 April 2021
El experto Fernando Peláez Longinotti, responsable del área de estudios económicos-tributarios de la Administración Tributaria de Uruguay nos cuenta como el programa EUROsociAL+ de la Unión Europea, a través del área de Gobernanza Democrática liderada por FIIAPP, está trabajando junto a la Administración Tributaria paraguaya para reducir la desigualdad a través de la lucha contra la evasión fiscal.
¿Por qué la lucha contra la evasión fiscal es una herramienta tan potente para lucha contra la desigualdad?
Nos encontramos en un momento crítico no solo en la región latinoamericana sino a nivel global en el que hay necesidades fiscales latentes. Y los sistemas tributarios producen unos resultados, pero nunca se está recaudando todo su potencial, en ningún país. Por ello, es necesario ver qué tipo de acciones podemos llevar a cabo para maximizar la recaudación potencial. Porque la evasión produce perdidas para el Estado y produce inequidad tributaria, unos pagan más que otros, no es solo un tema caja sino un tema de equidad. Es un círculo virtuoso que es bueno conocer para que la administración pública pueda tomar las medidas. Elevar la recaudación fiscal requiere una lucha sin cuartel contra el fraude porque permite identificar medidas para prevenir y reducir los niveles de evasión y lograr mejorar la eficiencia del gasto público en la prestación de servicios públicos, como en educación y salud.
¿Qué trabajo has realizado en el marco de EUROsociAL+ para la Subsecretaría de Estado de Tributación de Paraguay (SET) y cuáles son sus principales conclusiones?
A través de una metodología elaborada por el Centro Interamericano de Administraciones Tributarias (CIAT) realizamos la medición del incumplimiento del impuesto de la renta empresarial para medir la trayectoria y el comportamiento de la tasa de evasión fiscal en el país. A través de este análisis logramos conocer qué porcentaje del impuesto potencial se deja de recaudar – que en el caso de Paraguay se encuentra dentro del rango de los países de la región – y conocer la tendencia de ese fenómeno. Además, a través del análisis de microdatos se pudieron identificar casos concretos de empresas con los que la SET pudo tomar acciones específicas para incrementar la recaudación.
¿Existe diferencias en el incumplimiento del pago de impuestos entre hombres y mujeres?
No, no existen. Sin embargo, este trabajo, en consonancia con la transversalidad de género del programa EUROsociAL+, adoptó una estrategia de abordaje singular para incluir la perspectiva de género en la evasión tributaria. Los resultados revelaron datos de gran interés para el diseño de políticas públicas específicas para fomentar la igualdad de género mediante el emprendimiento empresarial femenino. Observamos que la proporción de mujeres empresarias es mucho más pequeña que la de hombres empresarios, en una relación del 35% de mujeres frente al 65% de hombres, y esa proporción se hace mayor en algunos sectores de actividad como en el agro, en una relación de 1 a 9. En cambio, hay sectores relacionados con oficios más vinculados tradicionalmente a la mujer donde hay una mayor representación de empresarias, como en el comercio, textil y hostelería, donde representan más del 50%.
Además, al analizar el nivel de ingresos promedio, se determinó que las mujeres están concentradas en los niveles de ingreso inferiores. En conclusión, hay menos mujeres empresarias, tienen barreras de acceso a determinados sectores, y cuentan con ingresos más bajos. De cada 10 personas empresarias en Paraguay, 3 son mujeres frente a 7 hombres.
25 February 2021
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 FIIAPPJosé 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
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.
14 January 2021
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
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.
13 August 2020
El coordinador del proyecto de cooperación europeo de competencia en Albania nos cuenta cómo han sido los últimos meses de trabajo en plena crisis sanitaria
Alberto Herrera, coordinator of the Twinning cooperation project financed by the EU “Strengthening of the competition authority in Albania”, shares his view from this country on the current context caused by COVID19. He tells us how the project has managed to rapidly adapt the training and activities to the new situation, without sacrificing the results. He also talks about the importance of monitoring competition in the midst of a health crisis and cooperation as the cornerstone to promote exchange between specialists.
What is the project about and what difficulties have arisen with the pandemic?
The project that I coordinate is a Twinning project funded by the European Union and carried out by the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) and the FIIAPP. The aim of the project is to ensure the protection of free competition in Albania through training activities between Spanish experts and their Albanian counterparts, which until the pandemic began required the presence of Spanish experts in the country.
The COVID19 outbreak and the resulting social distancing and confinement measures imposed both in Spain and Albania caught us totally off guard, I suppose like everyone else. This meant that planned activities had to be cancelled, as the experts were unable to travel from Spain, which plunged us into great initial uncertainty.
However, this did not result in a shutdown of our office in Albania’s activities, from where, from the outset and working from home , we focused our efforts on analysing the most appropriate strategies to ensure the continuity and achievement of project goals, coordination between all parties for an adequate design and re-planning of activities and the reconsideration of the communication strategy.
What security measures were established in Albania? How has the project work been adapted to the situation?
In Albania, measures were taken similar to those in the different neighbouring
countries and in the states of the European Union: confinement of the population, curfews at certain times of the day, closure of land borders, interruption of regular air and sea passenger transport services, suspension of activities for a large part of the public and private sector institutions and the closure of sports, cultural and leisure facilities.
However, once the situation in Albania improved, with the return to office work in mid-April, the project decided on how to resume activities with the aim of achieving the same results as those obtained face-to-face.
Based on this condition, as well as taking into account the preferences and needs of our beneficiary, from the project we suggested the possibility to institutions of going beyond the on-line teaching of master classes and organising e-learning in a form similar to those used by many universities and companies.
Finally, the chosen platform was Moodle, made available by the FIIAPP and which allows the development of interactive training from the didactic materials prepared by the CNMC experts.
Has the pandemic affected the subject on which the project is working?
Since the start of this crisis, the main goal of the European Commission and the Competition Authorities of the Member States, such as the National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) in Spain, has been to ensure that essential products to protect consumer health against the virus, such as masks and gels disinfectants, should continue to be available at competitive prices.
Investigations aimed at discovering and sanctioning anti-competitive agreements between operators or abuses by companies with a dominant position in sectors sensitive to the health crisis have become a priority for the Competition Authorities in our surroundings, and in Albania too.
In line with these objectives, and with the purpose of contributing to the fight against the pandemic in Albania within the scope of our project, we launched an interesting initiative that has allowed us to deepen the collaboration given to our beneficiary.
This consisted of the CNMC making non-confidential information available to the Albanian Competition Authority regarding the actions and investigations carried out by the it with the aim of protecting consumers. One example was the launch of a mailbox to centralise complaints and queries related to the application of competition rules in the context of COVID19 or the initiation of investigations in the markets producing and distributing health care or funeral services.
Why is it important, at a difficult time like this, that cooperation should not stop?
In these difficult times in which the notions or values of transnationality and universal citizenship are being questioned, cooperation between countries becomes even more meaningful – the exchange of experiences, technical and managerial knowledge established within the framework of technical cooperation projects like ours works both ways. Both ways because it not only works in favour of the beneficiary country, but is also enriching for the implementing country. Therefore, in adverse circumstances, international cooperation offers a unique chance to exchange solutions to problems that affect us all.
What is the current situation in Albania? And that of the project?
Although there were infections, the effects of the disease in Albania were less widespread than those of Western Europe. The country has worked to reactivate its activity and economy, and the measures taken have been gradually lifted, but naturally with the adoption of the necessary precautions.
Regarding the project, the parties involved have agreed on a two-month extension, which is approximately the time for which the activities have been suspended, to allow the completion of what had been planned.
How has the relationship with the FIIAPP been at this difficult time?
Since the beginning of this crisis, there has been constant concern and coordination from the FIIAPP, firstly, to guarantee the safety of those of us abroad and secondly to ensure the continuity of the projects, given the importance of cooperation for the parties involved, as I have said before.
Once the parties to the project agreed on the resumption of on-line activities, the support of the FIIAPP, by making the Moodle platform available to the project, was decisive to guarantee optimal results, as well as the technical support and collaboration of the Department of Knowledge Management responsible for it.
The commencement of activities in e-learning format would certainly not have been possible without the support and intervention of Knowledge Management, which loaded the didactic content onto the platform.
Despite everything negative that the pandemic has brought, is there anything positive that you can draw from the situation?
Unfortunately, I feel unable to draw any positive consequences from the whole situation. Perhaps, after a time and with some hindsight, it might be possible to make a constructive reflection on all this, not limited to the repetition of clichés and stock phrases.
I personally believe that this health crisis has placed us in a very complicated situation, with a scope and consequences as yet unseen. Not only has it caused the pain of all those who have lost a loved one, but it has also deprived many people of their livelihood, putting them in a situation of economic and labour uncertainty and precariousness.
For long periods of time, a large part of the population has been subject to great pressure and stress as a consequence of the confinement and social distancing measures taken by different governments, with subsequent harm to physical and mental health.
Neither should we sight of the curtailment suffered by principles, values and rights that we believed unquestionable in democratic societies. For example, the rights of assembly and freedom of movement, among others. I am sorry I cannot offer a more positive view, but as of today, I do not believe that these events will contribute to improving our world or making us better people.