The Energy and SMEs Ministry has organized two conferences on the future of SMEs in Romania. The first tackled themes that concerned the need for financing and the solutions offered by banks and authorities. The “Education for Tomorrow, Education for Business” interactive workshops are scheduled today.
The National SMEs Development Strategy 2020 plans to raise the number of SMEs in Romania by over 40 per cent during this European financial framework (2014-2020).
“The strategic data shows that we want to register a growth of over 40 per cent in the number of companies in Romania, from 474,000 companies in December 2013 to 670,000 by the end of 2020,” a ministry representative explained.
During the same period, the strategy entails raising the number of SMEs per one thousand people by over 50 per cent, from 24.06 at the end of 2013 to 35.45 in 2020.
The strategy also entails raising the number of people employed by SMEs from 2.6 million in 2013 to 3.2 million in 2020.
SME-backing programmes, improved this year
The SME-backing programmes in Romania, carried out by the relevant ministry, have been improved this year, following consultations with the private sector, among the most important measures being the increase in the percentage of allocating non-repayable funds and of the maximum amount to the two programmes, Anca Ionescu, State Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Business Environment, said on Thursday.
‘This year, there are a number of changes to programmes that have come after consultations with the private sector. We have increased, for two of the programmes, both the percentage of allocating non-repayable funds, as well as the maximum amount. In terms of [the programme] START we have a percentage of 90pct [non-repayable funds] and a maximum amount of 120,000 lei, and as far as [the programme] Commerce goes, also 90pct and the maximum amount of 135,000 lei,’ said Anca Ionescu.
For the 2014 version of the programme START, the maximum amount was capped to 100,000 lei, and the percentage of funding from the state to 70pct, whilst for the programme of trading market products and services, the eligible beneficiaries received a non-repayable funding from the state of 80pct at the most for micro-enterprises, 70pct for small enterprises and 60pct for medium-sized enterprises of the total amount of eligible expenditures (excluding VAT) and the maximum amount of allocation was limited to 80,000 lei.
Other modifications to the programmes mentioned by the state secretary refer to the fact that fiscal certificates must be brought when signing the contract, and not when applying for funding. Moreover, as of this year, the payment of the guarantee fee, for the guarantees granted by the SME Credit Guarantee Fund, is considered eligible.
The ministry’s official said that, in 2014, under the SRL-D programme, 830 new jobs were created, and other 603 new ones under the programme START.
The Government’s SME-backing programmes are aimed at creating jobs, supporting start-ups, creating conditions for enterprises’ operation on the market and supporting the increase in their competitiveness, but also of their export capacity, said Anca Ionescu.
Funding remains one of biggest problems for SMEs
The National Council of Private Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises of Romania (CNIPMMR) President Ovidiu Nicolescu believes that funding remains one of the biggest problems for the SMEs in Romania, with the percentage of the firms financing themselves having been in slight decrease in 2014 from 2013, whilst the proportion of business operators who turned to bank loans increased very little last year compared to 2013.
‘After surveying 1,375 entrepreneurs in March to April 2015 and 1,469 entrepreneurs in the same months of 2014, we have found that the percentage of the firms that turned to self-funding in 2014 was 82.04pct, compared to a 91.52pct in 2013. At the same time, 24.58pct of the enterprises took out bank loans in 2014, compared to 22.43pct in 2013. Last but not least, the loan from suppliers was used in 2014 by 18.33pct of entrepreneurs, with a similar having been recorded also in 2013, that is 18.48pct. In the said two years, firms also used leasing-type instruments, non-repayable funds, loans from specialist financial institutions and loans from clients,’ Ovidiu Nicolescu told a Thursday’s press conference.
The CNIPMMR president said that the main destinations of the SMEs’ financing demand targeted working capital, investments, job creating and implementing innovative and research projects.
He underscored the need to implement, as fast as possible, a set of measures aimed at improving the access of SMEs to funding.