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Víctor Pou , Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

Stifling SMEs

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 07:51:41 +0000 Published in La Vanguardia (Barcelona)

Small and medium-sized companies account for 80% of the Spanish industrial fabric and in Catalonia they are the fundamental basis of economic activity (99% of companies are SMEs, generate 74% of jobs work and contribute 65% of private GDP). Last year, 6,000 SMEs closed in Catalonia and another 1,933 went bankrupt. Unemployment in Spain has exceeded four million workers. Only a vigorous resurgence of the SME fabric could straighten the course of the Economics, which, if not, will be heading for a catastrophe, but the economic authorities are incapable of adopting the reforms that the SMEs need and urgently request.

The status of financial suffocation continues, as the difficulties posed by banks and savings banks to obtain credits do not improve. Only 14% of SMEs need money for productive investment, since 86% require it to meet their day-to-day needs. If there is no investment in SMEs, there is no employment or consumption.

Late payment is the second major concern. The public sector is paying in 157 days (average European, 62) and the private sector in 101 days (average European, 53). According to the European directive, the normal collection period should be 30 days ( deadline ). The Spanish law speaks of freedom of agreement between the parties and that, without agreement, it will be 30 days and, exceptionally, 60. A Multisectoral Platform against Late Payment has been created, with large demonstrations in Madrid at the end of 2009, but it does not manage to improve the status. Thus, the problems of Bursar's Office of SMEs and their indebtedness to banks are increasing and, in the end, there is no remedy: the closure of the activity.

In addition to the lack of financing and late payments, SMEs observe that there is no progress in social dialogue, nor in the necessary reforms in subject labor, internationalization, innovation, the energy sector and training. They believe that the VAT increase will slow down consumption. They ask the Government not to delay the structural reforms that the Spanish Economics needs, "without waiting for Europe to pull the country", according to the president of Pimec, Josep González, who adds: "It seems that the Government is more concerned about avoiding a general strike than about overcoming the crisis, and this way we are not going anywhere".