Economy & Politics

“A lack of prospects for companies”

For the President of the Chamber of Trades, Tom Oberweis, the State must increase its support for SMEs. History that the middle class can get through the coronavirus crisis without much damage.

For the President of the Chamber of Trades, Tom Oberweis, the State must increase its support for SMEs. History that the middle class can get through the coronavirus crisis without much damage.

(ER with ndp) – Even if the state has committed to support different sectors of the economy to the tune of around nine billion euros to deal with the covid-19 crisis, the president of the Chamber of trades, interviewed by our colleagues from Luxemburger Wort, calls for more balanced measures and even stronger commitments.

Your position on the management of the coronavirus crisis includes no less than 36 measures (Task Force on the suspension of deadlines for building permits, reform of leave for family obligations, …). Do you hope that all of these projects are successful?

Tom Oberweis: “As a Chamber of Trades, we have no concrete requests but we want to provide food for thought but also draw attention to themes on which it would be good to act. In our catalog, we mention a lot of measures that are relatively easy to implement. I am thinking for example of the Luxembourg Climate Plan for 2021-2030.

We also offer increased assistance to companies that use short-time working or the reduction of working hours. We consider ourselves a partner of the government. Together we can make a difference.

A hairdresser cuts the hair of a client at a hairdressing salon in Bratislava on May 6, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - The Slovakian government is easing restrictions because of the low number of new coronavirus infections. Slovakia reopens from May 6, 2020 shops and most service providers, restaurants - for outdoor seating only - as well as museums and galleries. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP)

Luxembourg is preparing to break out of confinement. A strange revival after two months of a near sleep agitated by the nightmare of the covid-19 and its hundred dead in the country. Monday, place in a leap into the unknown, towards “a new normal” where everything was turned upside down.

This Monday, many craft companies resumed their activities. Can we talk about relief?

“These measures are a ray of hope for our industry, but that does not mean that the problems are forgotten. On the contrary. Our document contains proposals that range from the short term (May) to the medium term (June to December). Businesses need perspective and planning. Economic problems will not go away with the end of covid-19. We must now prepare for the post-crisis period.

Within the Ministry of Health, there is a crisis management team that develops a strategy and it works well. Why is there not this type of initiative within the Ministry of the Economy? This would make it possible to have common contact for the different sectors. If there had been a coordinating body like the health services, it could have given a better boost when activities resumed.

Very small and independent businesses being more vulnerable in the economic crisis, the management of the middle classes decided to take priority over their aid. In eight days, 3,300 beneficiaries have already been compensated.

The adjustment of the compulsory collective leave in the construction sector is included in your demands.

“The associations concerned are in discussion about a possible adaptation, we are only observers. The idea is to reorganize the collective summer (and winter) leave in order to give companies the possibility of carrying out the orders postponed following the health crisis and guaranteeing their profitability in 2020.

The finance, economy and middle class ministers presented their plans on Wednesday evening to help businesses in the country weather the crisis. Or 8.8 billion euros divided between emergency expenses, deferred payment and credit assistance.

How do you view the action plan for small and medium-sized businesses that needed to be reviewed before the covid-19 pandemic?

“This action plan includes useful measures for small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in the areas of the economy. These societies are going through difficult times. Tax exemption for State aid, the creation of a framework for crowdfunding of SMEs as alternative financing for their new business models, the establishment of a specific scheme for the 1st establishment or even a special scheme artisanal food security is a step in the right direction. We remain attentive to the implementation of this reform.

Aid for some, support for others but the thousands of self-employed workers in Luxembourg seemed to have been excluded from the stabilization plan. This Wednesday the government promises them 2,500 euros in compensation.

More and more owners of craft businesses are worried about the future of their company, notably the absence of a successor.

“This is one of the major concerns for many entrepreneurs. They want to stop or are looking for a successor. This is a sensitive subject which we are discussing with the Chamber of Commerce. Some people have built their society for years … With the covid-19 crisis, they may have to start from scratch. These are the fears of people around 55 years of age. I am afraid that after the crisis, many will not continue their adventure. Many of them are wondering how they will manage their activities in the medium term and especially if they are going to get by … There is a lack of prospects for companies. ”

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