Business News

Small Businesses Demand Equal Conditions for All (interview)

Ljubljana, 09 February (STA) - The head of the executive committee of the Chamber of the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS), Stefan Grosar, has told the STA that unlike major businesses and state-owned companies, small businesses do not demand money from the government, but only equal conditions for all.

According to Grosar, the crisis in small businesses and entrepreneurship started in the second quarter of 2009, when the influence from the US hit Europe. It started with a 40 to 50% decline in deals in machine manufacturing and the metal industry, he said.

There was no support from banks - these were dealing with their own issues in 2009, which also reflected in investment. The crisis in the construction sector meanwhile started last year and hurt business in 60 different activities.

Grosar noted that some 4,500 small businesses closed in 2009, and additional 6,471 last year. These businesses had a total of 35,000 employees, which means that 46,000 people from small business lost their jobs in the past two years.

He expects more small businesses to close this year. "There are no major projects in the country at the moment and there could not be any," Grosar said, adding that all crisis measures the government had taken would work only in the long run.

A series of measures related to households should be facilitated, said Grosar, noting that Slovenians have saved between EUR 14bn and EUR 15bn on their savings accounts. But the biggest problems faced by small businesses is default on payment.

The OZS also proposes a more flexible labour market, the introduction of a special fund for severance pay and decent minimum wage, at least by EUR 100 higher than the current minimum pay of EUR 650 gross.

"There are activities which would find it hard to stand such an increase, but I think that such activities would have to be restructured in order to be able to provide some normal minimum pay", said Grosar.

He also pointed to the recent call to the government by the OZS to adopt legislative changes to improve conditions for business by mid-March. Otherwise small businesses will resort to civil disobedience.

Noting that more than three quarters of OZS members support this action, Grosar said examples of civil disobedience could be refusing to pay contribution and taxes on time, withdrawing money from bank accounts as well as staging protests.

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