Small and medium-sized businesses want more say in the debate around minimum wage negotiations and the business environment.
The Estonian Association of SME's (EVEA) have gained considerably more members over the last year, President Heiki Rits said in an interview to ERR, and they want their voices to be heard.
"We could help both the legislator and the executive to avoid regulations that stifle business. Especially those that increase the administrative burden. This is a painful issue for micro and small businesses, which, after all, account for nearly 99 percent of Estonian business," said Rits.
He gave an example of a member of the EVEA who typifies the situation and counted 23 regulations which need a report or require a visit to the premises for compliance. "There is a huge amount of paperwork! When we started analyzing it, it turned out that all this information was actually available somewhere else and maybe there is no need to regulate the entrepreneur so much," Rits said. The entrepreneurs themselves are interested in ensuring that the products and services they provide are safe and sound, he said. "The administrative burden could be such that the entrepreneur could carry out his core business without having to prove at all times that everything is under control and in compliance with the law."
Rits added many small businesses are sometimes bitter that the main focus of many people is on developing the digital nation and exports. He said: "If you look at the whole picture, the share of exports is 20 percent and it is distributed among dozens of companies. Increasing exports is very important, but information technology and exports are a part of business. However, most companies operate in the internal market, and we want others to take this into consideration!"
EVEA will be promoting rural areas this year. "For the first time in a long time, rural entrepreneurship is no longer confined to agriculture or livestock farming, and all forms of entrepreneurship are being pursued in rural areas. The most important thing for entrepreneurs is infrastructure, from the internet to roads, but it is also important to provide a support system for families, such as medical care, schools, and the like," he said.
Rits said a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Kaimar Karu is yet to come, but EVEA has discussed the concerns of small businesses with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. The association also wants to be involved in negotiations between employers and trade unions in the future.
"We consider it very important, and we also stressed in our meetings with the prime minister, that small and medium-sized enterprises should also be involved in trilateral talks, including minimum wage negotiations. There are only 186 companies with over 250 employees in Estonia. Given that there are 130,000 companies in total, it is clear that the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises is fully justified," he said.
Editor: Helen Wright