On the occasion of the Round Table with the Government, which was held in Rome last June 26th, Business International the division of Fiera Milano Media that organizes the event - has proposed as core issue an ad-hoc survey, which has highlighted the perception of the crisis from the point of view of entrepreneurs, its causes and its effects, as well as economic policy interventions deemed as priorities. The questionnaire was submitted to the attention of a representative sample of Italian companies extracted from the names of the Business International database that consists of 56542 companies and 193121 contacts.
The international economic pattern of the first months of 2012 still remains quite critical, despite faint signs of recovery and corrective actions by the governments aimed at restoring stability conditions on the markets. Two determinants hang on uncertainty: the evolution of sovereign debt crisis in the Euro area, on the one hand, and a potential hardening of oil supply, which could result in a dangerous inflationary spiral. The collected responses reveal a picture of disturbing immobility of our country and a rather marked level of distrust. 66% entrepreneurs claim they have experienced the effects of the crisis, a decline of 8 percentage points compared to what was stated by a similar survey of Business International in 2009. Three years ago, 31% could still declare unchanged conditions against the previous year, while today it is only 21%. Just a positive note, although no striking: 13% say they have improved their position compared to 11% in 2009. Overall, however, in 47% cases, the turnover has decreased in the last two years, and managers and entrepreneurs are less optimistic, since over 70% of our sample believes that the crisis will still have long-term effects on their business.
Orders and sales decrease (62%) and customer insolvency (60%), are among the major issues faced by the businesses in this period, in addition with bureaucracy inefficiency (50%), cost of credit increase (40%) and difficulties in accessing it (39%), price rise of raw materials (29%) and the delay in payments by the P.A. (25%). The increase of foreign business competitors doesnt pose a significant threat: only 16% indicates it among the difficulties of the period.
The major problems to be solved to break the deadlock are, in terms of holdings, bureaucracy inefficiency, excessive tax burden, delay of the country's IT infrastructure.
Entrepreneurs believe that the first thing to do is to reform the P.A. (77%), and OECD itself considers bureaucracy as the leading cause of Italian competitive disadvantage, that causes our country to be the second lowest in Europe, followed only by Greece. They claim also government tax intervention, i.e. reduction of tax burden (68%) and tax exemption for the profits that are reinvested in the business (60%). To overcome the problem of low liquidity they also would like a new bank-business relationship that could enhance business projects (50%). Incentives to businesses and facilities for access to credit are deemed to be useful, but are not considered priority policies of liberalization and privatization, deemed important only by 31% of the sample in the first case and by 22% in the second. But what is surprising is the lack of any sense of urgency for reforming the labor market and social security measures. And to adapt the Italian infrastructural system to the European standards, the priorities highlighted by entrepreneurs is not about physical infrastructures but the data communication network (75%). After all the Digital Divide in Italy is still a significant problem and the current government has in fact entered the Digital Agenda among its priorities, although its implementation is delayed.
For their part, entrepreneurs have proved to be tenacious and are trying to react against the crisis through new business strategies, while the reduction of staff and aggregation are not considered to be primary solutions to the detriment of their own business identity.
Fiera Milano news n.47 July/August 2012