“In the same way that the pandemic is far from being resolved, we defend the continuation of support and resilience measures by companies to overcome the crisis. Moratoriums, tax payment deferrals, the lay-off, the financing lines must continue to prevent the situation from worsening ”, said José Eduardo Carvalho, president of AIP, in the inauguration of the corporate bodies of the Associação Empresarial da Região of Guarda for the 2021/23 triennium, which took place on April 19, at its headquarters.

Comparing some data from the economic scenario of December 2020 with the same month of 2019, the president of the AIP stated that “we have a historical contraction of GDP, as there has not been since 1945 (-7.6%), a drop in exports of 19 % and 5% investment. With regard to the business dimension, we found that the unemployment rate only grew 0.3%, corresponding to another 20 thousand unemployed. Insolvencies declined in 2020 (-8%) and dissolutions remained practically the same. But we have to conclude that in this context, the combination of the Government's measures until December 2020 (moratoriums, lay-off, progressive resumption, deferral of payment of taxes and contributions and financing of the covid lines) were effective and endured the situation ”.

The associative leader analyzed the current business situation: “the scarcity of support for companies is beginning to be felt. The per capita value of support measures for companies in Portugal was 23,636 euros. In Europe, with less support, only three countries remained: the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia. The big problem is that an inflection started in November. In other words, just as biweekly health press conferences are held, there should also be press conferences with the same regularity to assess the health of the economy ”.

To list the challenges that frame the new phase of the life of business associations, José Eduardo Carvalho defended that “we need to direct our action towards projects with applications on the shop floor with direct implications for productivity. We need to make significant changes to the size of companies. There will only be significant changes in productivity, innovation, export intensity and wages if the size of the companies escalates. We will need to design and streamline financing instruments, see the example of the investment fund created by the Câmara do Fundão and Portugal Ventures. AIP is working on issuing bundled bonds for SMEs ”. And he continued referring that also "the digitization of the productive fabric, the creation and structures of mediation and arbitration, and the dynamization of demand in the mergers and acquisitions processes" are challenges that are faced by the associative structures.

The president of the AIP made it clear that “in the face of the brutal selection shock that will occur in the business fabric, there will be funds for restructuring companies” and reaffirmed that business associations “must participate, to boost demand and to increase the negotiating capacity of companies. SMEs in the acquisition of energy and other utilities, aggregating consumption and auctioning them ”.

Referring to the multiplicity of associative structures, José Eduardo Carvalho concluded by stating that “the core of business associations is currently being invaded by an overlap of entities and actors: foundations, confederations, CIMs, clusters, universities and others public bodies. Support for companies in internationalization, in innovation, in the management of regional incentives, in the training of entrepreneurs and technicians, and in entrepreneurship, is being occupied by those entities, with a resignation on the part of most business associations that surprises me. Some of these institutions are intermediaries between the incentive systems and companies and have access to grants for technical assistance, training of their employees and for investment. Business associations have had no direct access to any grant for 25 years to qualify their human resources and to renew themselves technologically ”.