The president of the Peru SME Association takes stock of the situation in the sector after the health emergency and talks about what is needed to reactivate small businesses.
How are SMEs recovering after the pandemic?
After the 30% contraction in which 500,000 jobs were lost, when the pandemic no longer escalated so much, we have seen that it was possible to move towards the new normality and recovery. However, this has not been the case because we have had a 10% increase in informality, precisely in the companies that went bankrupt, and now we have reached 80%. We are making efforts so that the reactivation occurs. We have demanded that the Government set its sights on the SMEs and to say what tools it will give so that this reactivation can arise.
What were the hardest hit sectors?
Tourism and the manufacturing sector. In tourism there are small restaurant businesses, travel agencies and hotels. All of them in two years have not received any income. The other sectors affected are manufacturing, which are precisely those that generate income. Here we have the textile sector, but there is also the metal-mechanic sector, which is very strong, especially the one that is located opposite the mining companies.
In the case of the textile sector, what do you need to promote its reactivation?
The sector asks that the national industry be protected against unfair competition from China. But we also need the Government to be clear about whether or not it can protect small textile companies, mainly those in Gamarra, which are clamoring for these safeguards.
In general, what are the main demands of SMEs?
Market and financing. The financing lines must have returns, grace periods and facilities. It is not necessarily pure assistance or forgiveness or bonuses, we are not talking about that.
Precisely, regarding financing, what percentage of SMEs was able to access government programs such as FAE-Mype or Reactiva Peru?
We do not have clear statistics. They have never been published and the State suffers from the part of the diagnoses and the data. We calculate that at Reactive Peru the bulk of SMEs did not enter. Those that have captured these funds have been companies that had nothing to do with the urgent items to attend to, such as services, that managed to get Reactiva when they were not a priority, as well as the Health companies that were not a priority either (because they did not stop activities).
What were the difficulties you encountered in accessing this financing?
The requirements. They asked that (the companies) not have any coercive, that they be up to date with Sunat, they asked for a history. Some entities even requested that they be their clients, they also asked that they not be in Infocorp.
What should be done to speed up and motivate the formalization of SMEs?
The formalization comes with a backpack heavily loaded with taxes and labor payments. There must be support tools and incentives, such as the tax support that (the State) can provide to these formal companies during the first year and that after that they can only begin to pay taxes, as is the case of Chile, Colombia, of several countries. However, here we formalize ourselves and the next day we have the Sunat above.