En­trepreneur­ship on a shoe­string bud­get

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Now that public opin­ion is get­ting tired of the end­less scan­dals that are com­ing to light ( and will con­tinue to do so for quite some time), politi­cians have de­cided to turn their all-too-gen­er­ous feel­ings to the plight of small busi­ness own­ers, rep­re­sent­ing more than 90% of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and em­ploy­ment, but who are suf­fer­ing the most due to a se­vere cash flow in the mar­ket.

TV crews are run­ning around try­ing to catch up with MPs and party reps mak­ing state­ments and of­fer­ing warm hand­shakes all over the place, as is the case of the Tseri Av­enue shop own­ers who are moan­ing about the (much de­layed) road works and how this will have a neg­a­tive i mpact on their turnover. In this case, as was the stupid de­ci­sion by par­lia­ment to ban the Min­is­ter of Labour from dereg­u­lat­ing shop hours, the real in­ter­ests of con­sumers and or­di­nary cit­i­zens have been sac­ri­ficed in an ef­fort to win a vote or two, just 14 months away from the next elec­tions.

To set the record straight, the Tseri project must go ahead, as pedes­tri­ans have been mowed down by speed­ing cars and in poor light con­di­tions, while the pot­holes and cracked pave­ments are caus­ing great harm to cars. The prob­lem here is that the Mayor, the com­pe­tent(?) gov­ern­ment ser­vices and the lo­cals should have agreed long ago on how the road should be de­vel­oped, be­com­ing an im­por­tant thor­ough­fare for the whole area.

On the other hand, the Cen­tral Bank soap-opera has also in­flicted im­mea­sur­able dam­age to the econ­omy as re­cent data has shown that con­fi­dence among busi­nesses and con­sumers alike has fallen, yet again.

En­ter the Min­is­ter of Com­merce, In­dus­try, Tourism and Nat­u­ral Gas who de­clared over the week­end that 66 mln eu­ros would be pro­vided in fund­ing to SMEs, en­trepreneur­ship, in­no­va­tion, com­pet­i­tive­ness and for ex­ports. All this sounds fine and dandy, but has any­one both­ered to find out what the real prob­lem is? Throw­ing money in the face of strug­gling en­trepreneurs is ab­so­lutely no good if the gov­ern­ment ma­chine and other stake­hold­ers do not have the means to pro­vide this cash in a fast and ef­fi­cient way.

The Min­is­ter ought to push for the one-stop-shop con­cept, which has been strug­gling to get off the ground for lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion among public de­part­ments. On the other hand, the com­mer­cial banks have ad­mit­ted that the money they have re­ceived from the Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank in or­der to pass it on to busi­ness and re-start growth has hardly drawn the nec­es­sary in­ter­est. And that is be­cause the terms for the EIB fund­ing are no dif­fer­ent from any nor­mal bor­row­ing scheme.

Hand­ing over large amounts to a hand­ful of large busi­nesses will hardly make a dent in the econ­omy. This will only come if SMEs are given proper ad­vice and ser­vices pro­vided to pro­mote ex­ports, boost­ing growth that will start the cy­cle of money com­ing in and busi­ness­peo­ple who are far be­hind on their taxes to re­sume pay­ments, earn­ing funds for the state cof­fers once again.

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