On Tuesday, the head of the European Commission’s Task Force for Greece, Horst Reichenbach, presented a report on small and medium-sized enterprises, stressing that these were key to the country’s economic recovery.
“The economy will suffer if SMEs are unable to thrive in this country and, therefore, growth will suffer as well. So, I appreciate the cooperation that exists between the market sector representatives that seeks to turn into action the recommendations included in this report,” he said in a press conference.
Reichenbach said that Greece has achieved a key improvement in indices, but noted that a speeding up of reforms that will bolster small and medium-sized enterprises is necessary.
As regards the contributions to social insurance funds and taxation, he said that such problems cannot be solved in a systematic way. There are ideas, however, on how to avoid the accumulation of debt in social insurance funds – among them, the extension of repayment time. Reichenbach added that significant effort has been made to increase exports, though additional actions are still necessary.
Reichenbach said that efforts are being made by public administration working groups to enhance institutions and replace high-interest loans with cheaper ones. “The 200 million euros earmarked for this purpose is small but a success in the effort will be encouraging,” he said.
SMEs have been hit by taxation and lack of liquidity, but this does not mean that something is fundamentally wrong with Greek entrepreneurship, he noted.
Reichenbach admitted that progress has come slower than anticipated. But he expressed certainty that the efforts that made by the Minister of Competitiveness will bring results. They will take time, he stressed.
On the measures for facilitating exports, he said that progress was slower compared to initial estimates, adding that SMEs are still faced with excessive red tape.
He underlined that the Eurogroup expects Greece to create its own prospects for the future and expressed hope that the report’s recommendations will assist in this effort.
Reichenbach also noted repeatedly that the new financing period for the structural funds has just been launched, paving the way for a solution to capital guarantees and liquidity generally.