Global economy relies on small and medium-sized enterprises to an increasingly large extent. At European level, SMEs account for 99% of the total number of companies. On the old continent, they provide two thirds of jobs in the private sector and contribute more than 50% to the overall added value created by enterprises in the EU. Romania makes no exception to the rule, but with a lower dynamics of the SMEs’ evolution than in Europe. Statistical figures show Romania is at the bottom of the classification in the EU as regards the density of active small and medium sized enterprises.
At governmental level, the Romanian Ministry for the Business Environment has set as a major goal to render more dynamic its activities of drafting policies and programs in support of small and medium sized enterprises in particular. Among other things, the line ministry drafted a package of laws meant to create a more predictable and friendly business environment, to safeguard SMEs to a larger extent. In an exclusive interview on Radio Romania, Ilan Laufer, Minister for the Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship has underscored the so-called Prevention Law, a document that has already been submitted to the Romanian Senate for debate.
“It is a law meant to strike a balance between the line control authorities and the taxpayer. If over 500 offences are being registered, the responsible will no longer be able to automatically sanction companies, but they will have to draft a remedy plan for those companies and to set a 90-day deadline for compliance. It is only after this period expires that they return to the respective companies and assess their activity. If during this time span the taxpayer has regulated his or her activity, they will no longer be sanctioned. And I believe this is a huge step forward.”
The aforementioned package of laws also includes the lobby law, meant to ensure the transparency of interests and the transparency of decisions in the public administration. The Public-Private Partnership Law is also equally important, being aimed at improving cooperation between the public, central and local administration, on the one hand, and Romanian and foreign business people, on the other. This draft law is currently under an endorsement procedure within the Ministry for the Business Environment. Here is minister Ilan Laufer with more details:
“I think this is an extremely important law for Romania, which has a huge potential to produce added value. There are international institutions willing to supplement the sums of money allotted to Romania, once the framework for the public-private partnership is created. I think it is very important to understand that Romania is going through a very good period. We are more visible at European and global level and, at the moment, we have a major potential to attract investments in Romania.”
In support of creating new SMEs, the Start Up Nation programme was set up, with a budget of around 380 million euros, of which almost one third are non-refundable EU funds. Under this programme, the state offers an amount of maximum 40,000 € to help people start a business. Minister for the Business Environment, Ilan Laufer, gave details about this programme:
“The programme is in a very advanced stage. Many of its beneficiaries have already signed the financing agreements and have started implementing these programmes. I believe we will soon finish the whole process. This is, indeed, the most ambitious start-up programme ever initiated and conducted in the European Union. The financing is granted to around nine or ten thousand companies, an example for the EU and a programme that brings into our economy 21 thousand new entrepreneurs. This is in fact a new generation of entrepreneurs, most of them aged around 36. Of them 54% are women. So this is a programme of great importance for Romania, which has a great potential.”
In order to become more attractive, the Romanian business environment needs better promotion abroad. In this respect, Minister Laufer has signed an accord with Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
“First of all, we want the Romanian Government’s economic missions abroad to become more effective. I believe it is normal for us to have an as close cooperation as possible with the business environment, which wants to expand its activities in various countries that host Romanian economic missions. In this respect, we have decided, together with the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mihai Daraban, to have a cooperation protocol based on which companies are invited to join official delegations and thus strengthen international ties and help Romanian companies access new markets.”
The authorities’ initiatives to render the business environment more dynamic and promote Romanian companies abroad cannot be truly effective in the absence of a business-oriented mindset, especially among the young people. Ilan laufer:
“We must be active! We must encourage people to get close to entrepreneurship. We must encourage them to adopt a more elaborate approach to entrepreneurial culture and this has been one of my priorities ever since I took over this position.”