Funds worth as much as €8 million held by the Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP) have been transferred to the Portuguese government, according to Paul Symington, chairman of Symington Family Estates.
Speaking to the drinks business, Symington (left) said: “Just over eight weeks ago, as a direct result of the financial crisis, the government stole €8m from the Port Wine Institute, which is 100% financed by the Port trade through an additional tax, which costs our company alone over €1m each year.”
Continuing, he said: “Because all institutions are obliged by the government not to spend over 10% of their budget each year, reserves have built up.
“The funds are used for running the labs, research, quality control, and some generic promotions, and we don’t resent that, but the reserve has built up to over €8m and now the government has run out of money so all reserves in public institutions have been transferred to the treasury – we won’t see this money again, €8m has just been bloody well swiped.”
Symington, who is understandably furious, is considering putting together a legal battle to help the IVDP reclaim the funds. “We are consulting with lawyers at the moment,” he said.
“Imagine what we could do with €8m,” he continued. “Like all regions in the world, there is overproduction in the Douro and it could be used to help farmers abandon their vineyards and leave with dignity,” he said.
“This is our money, it’s not from Brussels, but a tax on Port companies for the Port trade,” he stressed, adding: “We already pay huge corporation tax as well as tax on salaries.
“You can understand the treasury is desperate – it’s got to pay 5.5% on the €78 billion borrowed – but we’ve been robbed, it is outrageous, especially with the problems we face.”