Entrepreneurs ask for help in exchange for taxes

Publish date: 14-05-2009
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A Counter-guarantee Fund that is to become operational as of July 1 and the establishment of a Risk Fund in order to help companies develop during their start-up phase - these are two measures promised by authorities during the "Entrepreneur. Solutions for a year of crisis" conference, organized by Business Standard.

The topics were discussed with representatives of the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Loan Guarantees (FNGCIMM) and the Post-Privatization Foundation, partners in the event.

"We understand that you enforce more taxes, to maintain the level of budget revenues, but what is the state doing to help us amid crisis?" were the words of entrepreneurs upon meeting Government authorities. A minimum tax for companies was applied as of May 1, with impact on small and medium enterprises (SME).

"In Romania, everyone, from the prime-minister and Finance minister to the average policeman sees entrepreneurs as tax evaders. This is a big mistake that needs to be repaired," one of the country's most renowned entrepreneurs, Marius Ghenea, said. A solution for SME problems would be the Risk Fund, an initiative launched last year and supported by the SME Ministy, to help start-ups. "I cannot say what capitalization it should have, it depends on the partners we are to attract," the CEO of the Post-Privatization Foundation, Peter Barta, said. "It should operate similar to a venture capital fund," Barta added. As for the guarantee fund, it will recommend the SME Ministry a strategy change, given that the institution is using most of the available funds to cover for loans previously granted, instead of supporting new investments made through borrowed funds.

While lending growth fell to 10 percent in the first four months of 2009, from 40 percent in 2008, the number of guarantees granted by the fund rose 250 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, the rate of payment demands from banks rose significantly to the level of payments made in the past six years. "This shows that SMEs are in a crisis and they cannot pay debts to banks. We plan to lower exposure on guarantees for the current loans and increase support for credits granted for new investments. A balanced ratio would be 50 percent to 50 percent," according to FNGCIMM President, Aurel Saramet.

Business Standard

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