National Strategy of Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SME STATE SUPPORT IN THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

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1 National Strategy of Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SME STATE SUPPORT IN THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

2 CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... 3 BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SME STATE SUPPORT IN THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA... 6 Main Areas of State Support... 6 EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SME STATE SUPPORT PRIORITIES IN THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA... 8 Development of a Favorable Legal Framework... 8 Financial and Investment Support; Provision of Guarantees... 8 Promotion of the Creation and Development of Supportive Infrastructure Information and Consulting Support, Training, and Retraining Promotion of Foreign Trade Activities Support to SME Innovation and Implementation of Modern Technologies; Support to Implementation of International Quality Management Standards by SMEs Adminitering a Favorable Tax Policy Creation of Simplified Systems of Statistical Reports and Accounting

3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Since 2000, small and medium enterprise (SME) development has been considered an essential safeguard of sustainable development in the Republic of Armenia. The Republic of Armenia Law on State Support to Small and Medium Enterprise was adopted on 5 December 2000 to introduce and coordinate the SME state support toolkit. The Law stipulated the SME identification criteria, the main priorities of state support, and the principles of the state policy on SMEs. According to amendments to the Law, the following SME identification criteria have been applied in Armenia since 1 January 2011: Classification Employees Previous Year s Revenue Book Value of Assets at Previous Year End Micro Under 10 Under AMD 100 million Under AMD 100 million Small Under 50 Under AMD 500 million Under AMD 500 million Medium Under 250 Under AMD 1 billion Under AMD 1.5 billion The criteria differ significantly from those applied prior to the amendments in terms of both the number of employees and revenues. These indicators are very different from the standards adopted by the EU countries, as well. Classification Number Employees of Previous Year s Revenues Book Value of Assets at Previous Yearend Micro Up to 10 Under EUR 2 million Under EUR 2 million Small Up to 50 Under EUR 10 million Under EUR 10 million Medium Up to 250 Under EUR 50 million Under EUR 43 million In reality, differences in enterprise productivity heavily influence general enterprise revenues in different countries. Therefore, the standards used in EU or OECD countries cannot be replicated in Armenia, and extensive adaptation is required. However, the EU and the OECD can serve as best practice examples and guidance for developing Armenia s vision for the SME sector. For example, both define micro enterprises as enterprises with up to 10 employees, whereas the revenues differ over 10-fold. In other words, the labor productivity of Armenian enterprises is 10 times lower than that of comparable enterprises in developed countries. It is also a sign of severe differences of innovation and technology intensity of the processes. 3

4 The main targets of state programs on SME development in Armenia coincide with the state priorities stipulated by the Republic of Armenia Law on State Support to Small and Medium Enterprise. However, the programs do not have a consistent format (they contain different sections, for instance), which complicates their analysis. During , the SME state support programs of the Republic of Armenia did not contain the outcomes and financing of the programs. Criteria PROGRAM GOALS/ OBJECTIVES EXPECTED OUTCOMES FINANCING ACTION TIMETABLE Starting from 2005, all the programs have contained the program goals, expected outcomes, financing, and action timetables. However, some of the outcomes are not measurable, which complicates the evaluation of the effectiveness of the expected outcomes; for instance, a further increase in the share of SMEs in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country or an increase in the number of SMEs in the regions of Armenia, mostly in the remote and borderline settlements, and the creation of new jobs on their basis. Although further increasing the share of SMEs in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country has been considered a priority of SME state support programs, visible performance is very poor or, in some cases, even negative. Below are the findings of the brief analysis of state support to the SME sector in the Republic of Armenia: The SME support tools are largely based on approaches that have a social focus, which are relatively less effective than the competitiveness- or innovation-boosting approaches (in view of the OECD experience). The support mechanisms are not locally adapted, and fail to include the local selfgovernment bodies, which limits the possibilities of local and targeted support to SMEs. The formation of a favorable legal framework is slowly but steadily taking place in Armenia, and the positive trends have become more visible in recent years, as demonstrated by the Doing Business Reports, among other things. The volume of loan guarantees has fallen sharply in recent years: in 2010, the number of requests for guarantees was 23, of which 13 were granted. The process of obtaining a guarantee is rather complex and time-consuming. This system was introduced six years ago, and currently does not meet the SMEs requirements. The difficulties connected with receiving loans and the stringent guarantee and collateral 4

5 requirements make credit inaccessible especially for micro- and small-scale start-up businesses. Within the SME support infrastructure, the SME Development National Center (SME DNC) is the designated authority for state support to SMEs in the Republic of Armenia. The regional chambers of commerce and industry, the business associations, and other supporting entities are not covered. Instead of effective mechanisms, the SME DNC, and capacity building for the SME DNC, are perceived as the only infrastructure for business support. The new economic challenges require radical changes in the SME support infrastructures and the state support programs. Foreign trade promotion in Armenia focuses only on commodity marketing, in spite of a continuing increase in export- and import-related costs. Support to innovation and the implementation of international standards should include, among other things, the provision of technological and technical advice that organizations need for implementing such standards. Support to innovation is declared, but no direct outcomes are there to be seen. The implementation of a favorable tax policy for SMEs is prescribed as one of the priorities for state support under the Republic of Armenia Law on State Support to Small and Medium Enterprise. Unfortunately, none of the SME support programs during have contained any measures aimed at this priority. The system of SME statistical reports disseminated to the public by the National Statistical Service of Armenia is inadequate. The statistical reporting and report processing mechanisms are inadequate, as a consequence of which the official SME statistics are incomplete and do not contain the basic information on SME performance. The lack of information hinders the understanding of the real picture in the SME field and the development of an effective policy of support. To avoid failures in the implementation of government policies (i.e. their negative impact on markets), the business services currently provided in the market should be differentiated from the services that are still not offered because of the small size of the market or the weak capacity of the business service providers. The SME DNC should fill the gaps, whilst not disturbing the activities of competitive markets of business services. 5

6 BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SME STATE SUPPORT IN THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA Main Areas of State Support According to the Republic of Armenia Law on State Support to Small and Medium Enterprise, the main areas of state support to SMEs are as follows: The formation of a favorable legal framework; Financial and investment support and the provision of guarantees; Supporting the creation and development of supportive infrastructure; Information and consulting support; Promotion of foreign trade activities; Supporting innovative activities and the implementation of modern technologies; Implementation of a favorable tax policy; Staff training and retraining; Creation of streamlined systems of statistical reports and accounting; and Support to the state procurement process. The last article of the same Law contains some provisions of the state program for SME support. Table 3.2 below presents the main objectives of the state programs for SME development in Armenia. Table 3.2 Main Objectives of the State Programs for SME Development in Armenia Objectives Period Creation and development of infrastructure necessary for the effective operation of SMEs Expansion of foreign trade and promotion of exports by SMEs Further improvement of the legal framework Expanding the opportunities for financial and investment support to SMEs Compiling statistics on SMEs Safeguarding SMEs access to the necessary information and consulting services, as well as to the services of the training and retraining system Supporting innovation and the implementation of modern technologies in SMEs Supporting the implementation of international quality management standards in SMEs Expanding the opportunities for doing business Reducing unemployment in Armenia by creating new jobs and keeping the existing ones New mechanisms of support to prepare SMEs for the transfer to a new system of support, and carrying out the transfer, which will improve the effectiveness of state support to SMEs 6

7 The following allocations were made from the state budget of the Republic of Armenia for achieving the aforementioned objectives: Table 3.3 Financial Allocations from the State Budget of the Republic of Armenia (drams million) for the Implementation of the State Programs of SME Support in Armenia , The financial allocations grew until 2009 and fell drastically during the last three years. In 2008 and 2009, the allocations were the highest, AMD 450 and million, respectively. Reduced financing for business support during the crisis demonstrates that either business support is not a priority in the state system or the supporting authority cannot prove its effectiveness. The main principles of state support to SMEs and of developing the SME DNC were anchored in the idea that an authority will, in case of incrementally building up its capacity, be able to develop programs and to do fundraising on its own. However, as state financial support declines, the services provided by the SME DNC also gradually decline, as a sign of the developed capacity either leaving the authority or not being effective from the standpoint of the business support services demanded by the SMEs. 1 The amount allocated in the state budgets is not reflected in the programs. 7

8 EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SME STATE SUPPORT PRIORITIES IN THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA Development of a Favorable Legal Framework SME development state programs of the Republic of Armenia have contained this priority since Reforms aimed at improving the SME legal framework have been regularly implemented in the Republic of Armenia. Due to various internal and external factors, most of the reforms have failed to deliver the desirable outcome. The 2012 Doing Business Report on the factors concerning legal acts reflects the following picture. 1. Getting a construction permit: 57 th among all reviewed countries 2. Registering property: 5 3. Enforcing contracts: Resolving insolvency: 62 Getting a construction permit requires 18 actions, 79 days, and 57.1% of the per capita income in Armenia. Registering property requires 3 actions, 7 days, and payment in the amount of 0.3% of the property value. Enforcing contracts requires 49 actions, 440 days, and payment in the amount of 19% of the claim value. Resolving insolvency requires on average 1.9 years and costs 19% of the debt. Financial and Investment Support; Provision of Guarantees Expanding the opportunities for financial and investment support to SMEs is considered another priority of state support to SMEs. This priority, too, is reflected in all the SME development programs of Armenia. The provision of loan guarantees is the main tool in the support toolkit. During , guarantees worth a total of AMD 1.51 billion were provided to a total of 370 SMEs. 23 SMEs applied for support under the loan guarantee program during 2010 and 13 were granted (see Table 4.2.1). Table Requests granted and loan guarantees provided 13 Requests denied by banks at the preliminary stage or by the credit committee 2 Requests denied by the SME DNC of Armenia and referred for additional clarification 4 Requests by stakeholders, which subsequently failed to lend 2 Pending requests 7 Total requests 23 8

9 The breakdown of the provided guarantees by years is presented in Table in million drams. Table Guarantee Loan % of the loan 54% 54% 54% 52% 54% 57% 47% Volume of Loan Guarantees (drams million) 342,20 375,70 197,60 213,00 246,50 25,50 63, Loan Guarantees as % of the Loan Received 60% 55% 54% 54% 54% 52% 54% 57% 50% 47% 45% 40% The volume of loan guarantees fell sharply since 2007, from AMD million to AMD 63.5 million. The share of the loan guarantees in the total loan amounts is the lowest (47%) in

10 During 2010, five requests were presented to the SME DNC of Armenia under the Pilot Program to Promote SME Lending through Partial Subsidization of Loan Interest in remote, borderline, highlymountainous, and mountainous rural communities and rural communities with less than 1,000 inhabitants. Three of these requests were granted in the Tavush region. In terms of access to credit, Armenia was the 40 th in a ranking of 183 states in the Doing Business Report for In general, the analysis of the figures reveals the obvious deficiencies of the loan guarantee, interest subsidization, and credit access programs due to their inadequacy for the market and their divergence from the existing demand. Promotion of the Creation and Development of Supportive Infrastructure For over 10 years, the Government of the Republic of Armenia has paid close attention to the development and strengthening of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development National Center of Armenia Foundation, through which the bulk of the state support of Armenia to SMEs is channeled. The SME DNC operates from It has representation offices in all the regions of Armenia. The activities of the SME DNC and the evaluation of its performance in relation to the various state support priorities are presented below. Unfortunately, the high turnover of staff limits the ability of the SME DNC to maintain quality in its programs. Nevertheless, the regional branches have the staff and capacity necessary for business support. The regional and national chambers of commerce and industry, the business associations, and other organizations for SME support and development are not engaged in all the programs of state support to SMEs under the current infrastructure of SME state support programs. Information and Consulting Support, Training, and Retraining During , all of the SME state support programs administered by the SME DNC covered information and consulting services necessary for SMEs, as well as the training and retraining of staff. According to its 2010 annual report, the SME DNC granted 6,872 requests in this area during 2010, of which 21 also received business information and consulting support requiring highly specialized skills (Table 4.4.1). 10

11 Table Type of Support Number of SMEs Development of business and investment plans 4 Accounting and tax reporting for the fiscal year Consulting to obtain tourism house qualification 3 Total 21 Another 1,266 SMEs received training support (see Table 4.4.2). Table Main Topics of Training Courses Number of Participants Clarifications of the tax legislation of Armenia 971 Clarifications of the labor legislation of Armenia 50 Preparation of financial and tax reports 44 Accounting 2 International Accounting Standards 126 Human Resource Management 22 Customs Procedures 50 Training of starter accountants; economic law and financial 1 management Total 1266 Consulting and training support only partially reaches its objective. The scarcity of highly specialized skills in both the SME DNC and the majority of business service providers reduce the effectiveness of these support tools. General awareness courses and consulting is often delivered only for formally meeting the targets. Interestingly, the list of courses does not contain important topics such as marketing, quality systems, boosting competitiveness, branding, and the like. It is indicative of not only the quality of the demand, but also the limited capacity of the organizations offering the courses. During 2010, nine programs of Start-up Business Support were carried out in various regions of Armenia. 130 of the 297 applying start-ups were selected for participation in the program. 32 (24.6% of the registered) were registered in start-ups received financial support on the following terms: Table Conditions of Fundraising Support to Business Start-ups The following are the conditions of fundraising support to business start-ups: Amount No more than AMD 2 million Annual interest rate 12% Maturity No more than 3 years Repayment procedure Monthly annuity Collateral Guarantee (100%) provided by the SME DNC of Armenia Target group Business start-ups 11

12 The business start-up support program, which initially operated under the CEFE methodology, gradually turned into a simple business planning course coupled with fundraising support. Unfortunately, most of the participants in the business start-up support program are motivated by the fundraising element, which seriously undermines the effectiveness of the support. Promotion of Foreign Trade Activities Since 2001, SME state support programs have included the expansion and promotion of the foreign trade activities of SMEs. According to its 2010 annual report, the SME DNC of Armenia supported 49 SMEs during The breakdown of the support by types is as follows: Table SME Support to Promote Foreign Trade in 2010 Type of Support Number of SMEs Product packaging, labeling, design, and 39 advertisement Website design 4 Participation in expositions 5 Implementation of automated management 1 systems Total 49 The breakdown by regions is as follows: Table Regional Breakdown of SME Support for Promotion of Foreign Trade in 2010 Region Number SMEs Shirak region 3 Tavush region 2 Syunik region 2 Lori region 6 Kotayk region 8 Aragatsotn region 4 Gegharkunik region 5 Armavir region 1 Vayotz Dzor region 7 Ararat region 3 Yerevan City 8 of 12

13 In terms of foreign trade, Armenia was ranked as number 104 in the 2012 Doing Business Report, compared to the 103 rd rank in documents, 13 days, and US $1,815 are needed to export a standard container. 8 documents, 18 days, and US $2,195 are needed for import. Table Evaluation of 2010 Foreign Trade in the 2012 Doing Business Report Evaluation Number of documents necessary for exporting Number of days necessary for exporting Cost of exporting one container, 1,600 1,600 1,165 1,746 1,731 1,665 1,815 US $ Number of documents necessary for importing Number of days necessary for importing Cost of importing one container, US $ 1,880 1,880 1,465 2,111 2,096 2,045 2,195 During , the number of necessary documents was reduced for both exports and imports. The amount needed grew in 2011 relative to 2010 from US $1,665 to 1,815 for exports and from US $2,045 to 2,195 for imports. SMEs consider the co-financing for billboards, packaging, and label printing, as well as for website design to be particularly effective. In contrast, there is virtually no service of marketing products in foreign markets. It requires professional skills that most providers of business services in Armenia are lacking. Support to SME Innovation and Implementation of Modern Technologies; Support to Implementation of International Quality Management Standards by SMEs The 2010 Global Innovation Index (INSEAD & CII, 2010) ranks Armenia as the 82 nd in the world. Previously, Armenia was ranked as the 104 th among 183 countries. Unfortunately, this improvement is due to innovative ideas and products, rather than the use of innovative technologies in business. Thus, businesses are trying to make new products on the basis of the existing old assets, rather than introducing new production technologies. Since 2004, SME support in Armenia has focused on promoting the implementation of international quality management standards. Some of the activities carried out in this area include: 13

14 In 2008 TUV awarded the ISO 9001:2000 quality management system implementation certificate to the SME National Development Center of Armenia. In 2009 Two SMEs obtained food security system certification (ISO 22000:2005); and Four SMEs implemented the automated management system. In 2010 One SME implemented the automated management system. The implementation of automated management systems in five SMEs and quality management systems in two organizations during three years is generally a rather poor indicator. Moreover, this indicator casts doubt on the capacity building effectiveness of the SME DNC for delivering this service. In the OECD countries, targeted innovation is a core component of SME support strategies. Administering a Favorable Tax Policy The Republic of Armenia Law on State Support to Small and Medium Enterprise stipulates the administration of a favorable tax policy for SMEs in Armenia as one of the priorities of state support to SMEs. Unfortunately, none of the SME support programs for contained any actions in this area. How favorable is the current tax policy for the SME sector? The 2012 Doing Business Report contains the following table on the tax system. Table Evaluation of the Tax System of Armenia in the 2012 Doing Business Report Rank Number of payments (per annum) Hours spent (per annum) Total tax as % of profit Armenia is ranked as the 153 rd among 183 countries in terms of the tax system. In 2011, it took on average 34 tax payments, relative to 50 in The reduction of the number of payments reduced the time cost of dealing with the tax system during the year from 581 in 2010 to 500 in The tax amount was generally 40.9% of the profit, which was 0.2% lower than the 2009 figure. 14

15 Creation of Simplified Systems of Statistical Reports and Accounting The number of documents required for tax filing was reduced from 50 to 34 in 2011, which resulted in reducing a SME s time cost of completing and submitting such documents from 581 to 500 hours per annum. The analysis of the required statistical and accounting reports is published by the National Statistical Service of Armenia (official website of the National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia, Publications, at and contains general information on SMEs. The Armenia social and economic yearbooks, for example, contain only brief tables with sector statistics on SMEs and limited references to SMEs in the section called Interesting Statistics. The second main source of statistics on SMEs in Armenia is the statistical publications of the SME DNC of Armenia, which, however, has serious discrepancies (1-25%) from the data published by the National Statistical Service of Armenia. The principles and methods used for the quantitative and comparative calculations of SMEs in Armenia, which could help to understand the main reasons for the discrepancies, are not accessible. 15

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