ECONOMY

Task Force highlights the problems SMEs face

Small and medium-sized enterprises in Greece have to pay three times as much in start-up costs compared with the European Union average, while despite an EU directive on state payment delays, the Greek state takes three times as long as the bloc average to make payments to companies, a report by Greek employer groups and the European Commission’s Task Force in Greece showed on Tuesday.

It is therefore no coincidence that as many as 200,000 SMEs vanished from the map within just three years, with the number of people employed in the sector dropping by more than 700,000.

The report added that the inherent problems of small and medium-sized entrepreneurship in Greece, such as the absence of innovation and an outward-looking character, combined with the difficulty in gaining access to funding, the supply of a very small share of EU subsidies to entrepreneurs, the delays in disbursements and the complex bureaucratic system of licensing (despite recent improvements) have left SMEs particularly vulnerable to the crisis.

Task Force head Horst Reichenbach made particular reference to the 5.3 percent annual decline in Greek bank loans to enterprises in March 2014.