Obligatory Chamber of Commerce Membership

Autónomos (self-employed workers) used to ask themselves why they were billed by the Cámara de Comercio Provincial, if the said body never did anything for them.

However, at the end of 2010 the previous socialist government stopped it, making membership voluntary. However, now this present government has decided to make membership obligatory again. The difference is that although you have to be a member, no matter what size your business is, you won’t have to pay a membership quota; you will just have to pay for any services that they provide.

People within the business sector are far from happy with it, amongst them, the Comisión Nacional de Competencia, who consider that this proposed new law contradicts the general drive of the government’s reforms.

The general thrust of the reforms is to create a uniformed market where a business in one autonomous region can operate in a neighbouring region without having to go through a duplication of paperwork; i.e., if you have a licence, then it should be valid for the whole of Spain. The Government deserve praise for this.

The problem is that the Chambers of Commerce are provincial bodies, therefore if you are a member of the Granada branch, you cannot benefit from the services of the Málaga one, for example. Furthermore, if your business is based in Granada, you are forced to belong to your own provincial branch, so where is the freedom of choice?

The financing of the CoC‘s is also a controversial point because they will receive an income from three difference sources: money charged for services, voluntary payments by members and… public grants, the Minister of the Interior would not be drawn on the exact amount of taxpayers’ money that would be pumped into the CoC‘s

Editorial Note: The Chambers of Commerce would not have got into the state that they did if they had actually provided services for the obligatory sums paid over to them. There was a general discontent about handing over money for nothing in return, which led to the 2010 move. The result was their income hit the floor and they went running to the new PP government, who came up with a way of financing them even though it completely contradicts their general liberalization plans of the Spanish economy.

(News: Spain)