Press release

Ljubljana, 5 April 2016 – At today's 3rd SME Conference, the experts presented international and domestic financial resources for the realisation of entrepreneurial ideas. Attention was drawn to the problems of entrepreneurs who are facing disproportionate obstacles and restrictions when operating within the European market. The event, which was attended by 120 participants, was organised by the Chamber of Small Business and Trade (CSBT) of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (CCIS).

Brane Lotrič, President of the Management Board of CSBT-CCIS, in the introduction said that we were proud to still have companies in Slovenia that insist on the right to work, to create. Small and medium-sized enterprises are an extremely important part of national economy, but in his words "they represent a dairy cow for the state, restricting access to pasture; at the same time, that same state says that milk is lacking". He was critical of the attitude of senior and executive public officials to enterprises and called for the introduction of personal criminal and material liability of every public official, as is the case in the real sector. He also commented on the unkind business environment contributing to the insufficient growth of existing domestic companies, the withdrawal of foreign and some domestic investors and the lack of new foreign investors. There are ever fewer inflows to the budget from companies, and there will be even less, he added, wondering if the Government was unaware or choosing not to be aware of that. He highlighted competence centres for human resources development as examples of good practice.

The CCIS President, Marjan Mačkošek, said that SMEs were known for their adaptability, which was the foundation of their survival. Due to the refugee crisis and practical closing of borders within the EU, the free movement of goods, services and work among the EU Member States again become a topical issue. Given the current situation, there is not enough done in Brussels and Slovenia to eliminate obstacles for the business of SMEs, which are the backbone of the economy. There are also large national topics, namely relieving the burden on the economy, including small business, among which he specifically emphasised the urgency of tax reform. The Ministry of Finance is offering tax restructuring, not tax reform, to which the CCIS will not consent. The CCIS proposes reducing tax on earnings and contributions by 328 million euros to increase net salaries for as many as 570,000 employees.
On the other hand, the public sector trade unions call for no less than 380 million only for reversal of "austerity measures", that is, for higher salaries of 160,000 public servants.
Who has the right to so unjustly distribute the effects of economic growth? He therefore requested that the corporate sector and all employees in the corporate sector be properly treated. A fair reduction of taxes on earnings would be beneficial to small business as well. Mačkošek also referred to tax registers, the introduction of which the CCIS supported, but also claimed reduction of tax rates and an action plan to improve inspection supervision of undeclared work, but this has yet to be realised.

Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, stressed that the Slovenian economy was exceptionally export-oriented. The Ministry is therefore conducting numerous measures aimed at promoting internationalisation. Ever greater support is provided by the Ministry to family businesses. He mentioned the Financial Incentives Programme 2015-2020, in the scope of which 293 million euros of European funds will be made available to research, development and innovation, and 548 million euros to SME competitiveness and internationalisation. The measures are implemented by the MGRT (Ministry of Economic Development and Technology), SPS (Slovenian Enterprise Fund), Sid banka and Slovenian Regional Development Fund.

The participants were also addressed by the State Secretary from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dragoljuba Benčina, the President of the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia, Branko Meh, acting General Manager of the HIIS, Samo Fakin, and Chief Market Inspector, Andrejka Grlić.

The Spring Breeze award was presented to the company Gea College for "building an environment for development of entrepreneurial thinking, raising business persons and not merely economists and for being an educational institution contributing to the development of entrepreneurship in Slovenia, thus enabling the transfer of knowledge from theory into practice". The Spring Breeze award – "Safety and health are our common concern and commitment" was received by the company Johnson&Johnson for the best company health promotion plan.

THE CHAMBER OF SMALL BUSINESS AND TRADE RESPONDED TO THE SINGLE MARKET STRATEGY OF THE EU
In October 2015, the European Commission presented its new Single Market strategy.
The CSBT welcomes the new strategy, especially the efforts of the Commission for a more just and integrated single market. In addition, the CSBT is satisfied because special attention is devoted to numerous practical measures that help SMEs and start-ups to grow, expand and operate across borders. However, it is important that the European Commission considers all SMEs and start-ups, not only young, innovative and technology-oriented.

The complex VAT arrangement is one of the many obstacles that SMEs on the single market are faced with. The CSBT is pleased that the European Commission will not only solve this issue in the Digital Single Market Strategy, but also draw up an Action Plan to reduce administrative burden of VAT by introducing simplified arrangement for SMEs.

In addition, SMEs and start-ups are prevented from using the entire single market by the lack of information and poor understanding of regulatory requirements. That is why the European Commission will prepare an initiative for start-ups, which will enable the establishment of Digital Single Web Portal, as projected in the Digital Single Market Strategy. This Digital Single Web Portal is expected to facilitate cross-border operations of companies and provide information to SMEs and start-ups. The lack of information is one of the main reason why SMEs are not conducting business abroad.

One of the goals of the Single Market Strategy is to introduce a services passport and eliminate regulatory obstacles. This will simplify experts' and service providers' access to markets in other Member States.