The SME sector (micro, small, medium-sized enterprises) expects to return to its normal level of operations three months after the end of the crisis, particularly the IT, communications, construction and agriculture sector.
Covering basic operating costs and dealing with delivery delays and order cancellations are the major challenges faced by Serbian SMEs in the changing economic environment due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the March survey “Zajedno kroz krizu” (“Overcoming the Crisis Together”), conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the USAID Cooperation for Growth Project.
In addition to the challenges relating to covering operative costs, and according to a survey of 806 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Serbia, the private sector is struggling to protect sensitive liquidity. One in two companies finds that they have half as much revenue as before and only one in three can make up for it with work from home. According to the survey, tourism and catering are the most vulnerable sectors.
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The SME sector expects to return to its normal level of activity three months after the end of the crisis caused by the pandemic, while it is expected that the IT, communications, construction and agriculture sectors will recover faster than others. Most surveyed companies would welcome payroll tax and contributions exemptions.
Assessing the intensity of the negative effects, the business community claims that the greatest impact on business is caused by the delay or cancellation of orders (3.9, on a scale of 1 to 5), the inability to cover basic operating costs (3.7), working time limitations (3.7) and the inability to collect debts (3.7).
One in two companies, on average, estimates that its operating revenues are at least halved compared to the same month last year, while almost a third of those surveyed, mainly in the micro-enterprise sector, expect a loss of more than 80% compared to March 2019.
In the tertiary sector, tourism and catering have suffered the greatest losses (45.5%), followed by other services (39.2%) and professional, scientific, innovation, technical and administrative activities (31%).
The absolute majority of the survey participants, 97% of them, expect difficulties in receiving the promised state aid and only 3% of all the surveyed companies, mainly small enterprises in the IT sector, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises in the industrial sector, expect they would receive state aid without any problems.
(Vecernje Novosti, 14.04.2020)
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