Slovenia hosting early warning conference for SMEs
The goals of early warning are to help companies overcome their problems, return to growth, close non-functioning companies quickly and efficiently with minimum damage to the company, creditors and owners, restore trust and do business without being constantly in debt, said the head of the project Early Warning Europe, Morten Moller.
In Slovenia, which is the tenth EU country to join the programme, the SPIRIT agency will be in charge of the project.
Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the programme was very important in the post-coronavirus times. "We have overcome the crisis successfully also because we have cooperated. In the recession that follows it is crucial that we respond quickly and with precise measures," he said.
The government has prepared three stimulus packages in combined value of almost EUR 7 billion. "With this type of aid we want to prevent the repeat of the 2008 crisis story when we responded with belt tightening."
Each year more than 200,000 EU businesses are facing insolvency, which translates into 1.7 million jobs.
Počivalšek and Zoran Stančič, the head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia, agreed that small businesses are the backbone of the European economy, so such programmes are very important.
Stančič said that the topic of today's conference had been picked before the coronavirus crisis but was even more topical now.
In the EU the 25 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ two-thirds of all employed people, which is why the Commission devoted a part of its new stimulus strategy to small businesses. The goal is to cut the red tape, help companies expand to new markets, and allow a transition into a digital and green Europe.
The head of the Chamber of Small Business and Trade, Brane Lotrič, welcomed the fact that Slovenia was joining the early warning programme. "The first wave of the crisis is over but businesses live for tomorrow," he said, labelling government measures as appropriate.
He believes the programme will be a tool, an opportunity and starting point for new ideas and progress at companies.
This was echoed by Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) director general Sonja Šmuc. She said the programme was ideal for the current situation. "There are many good ideas, plans in Slovenia, and this is why the GZS's outlook for the future is a little bit more optimistic than that of other institutions," she said.
GZS chief economist Bojan Ivanc assessed that the drop in employment this year would would reach 6%, revenue per employee at SMEs would drop by 7% to EUR 124,000, gross operating profit would decrease from EUR 3.7 billion to EUR 3.2 billion, and net profit of SMEs would stand at EUR 1.2 billion after reaching a record of EUR 1.8 billion last year.