GRTU has welcomed Mr Peter Faross, UEAPME Director General, in its offices to discuss the work being done by both organizations and future prospects. Mr Faross was appointed as UEAPME Secretary General by the General Assembly on 29 November 2013, to take office as from January 2014.
The discussion focused on the priorities of the organizations. UEAPME and GRTU’s EU related priorities are exactly in line.
Competitiveness first: There are a lot of factors affecting the competitiveness of enterprises, these include access to finance, unfair competition as well as the regulatory environment. Enterprise competitiveness is still not given top priority. Environmental regulations heavily impact the competitiveness of European SMEs. This does not mean that the environment is not important but regulations need to be implemented in a manner that is sensitive to business and keeping in mind the competitiveness of enterprises when compared to enterprises outside the EU, which are direct competitors.
Access to Finance: The issue of excessive interest rates and bank charges that heavily effect a country’s competitiveness is an issue in many European Countries and GRTU contends that the problem is very pronounced in Malta. GRTU emphasized that more finance facilities must be made available to SMEs and these must be affordable and easy to access. These funds must be made available to all local banks so as to encourage full participation. The Commission should however also facilitate the distribution of such funds to intermediaries apart from banks and encourage bodies that really have SMEs at heart to build the necessary infrastructure.
The Small Business Act: The Small Business Act was a good paper exercise however it was implemented to different extents in the Member States because there was no legislative obligation on the Member States. The Small Business Act has not reached its desired results and a more aggressive stance is required.
Standardisation: Standards tend to be complicated to acquire as well as costly. Larger enterprises therefore fair better than smaller enterprises to acquire standards and making standards accessible to smaller business still requires a lot of effort at national level by the GRTU and at EU level by UEAPME.