“Another wave of bankruptcy filings will arrive from the first quarter of 2021”

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INTERVIEW - The president of the CPME, François Asselin, reviews the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises facing the Covid-19 crisis and "proposes the creation of a consolidation loan grouping together all social and tax claims with a spread over six to ten years of repayments".


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INTERVIEW – The president of the CPME, François Asselin, reviews the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises faced with the Covid-19 crisis and “proposes the creation of a consolidation loan bringing together all social and fiscal claims with a staggered repayments over six to ten years “.


Are you worried about the economic situation?

The atmosphere is heavy and we need acts of hope. The stake for the executive and the French is simple: relaunch the recovery. Out of 1.8 million companies that have at least one employee, only 5,000 have more than 250. These SMEs, we do not address them only from above. If we want this investment plan to irrigate all these companies, we absolutely have to rely on the territories. Methodology is as important as ideas. Stewardship must follow.

We should write a recovery guide for dummies in order to popularize the public thing, make it edible

Are VSEs and SMEs at risk of being overlooked in the recovery plan?

Big companies are well aware of how the state system works. They are armed and muscular to defend their interests. A secretary general of an international group will know how to call a prefect in the event of a blockage. Not the boss of an SME. This is why when you are grown up, you have to act small. And when you are small, to have acts of great. Type “stimulus plan” into Google: you come across a 298-page document from the Ministry of the Economy. What do you do with it when you are an SME owner? We should write a recovery guide for dummies in order to popularize the public thing, make it edible.

Do you fear a non-recourse to aid?

We are not bounty hunters but activity hunters. If a company has a project and can benefit from a leverage effect thanks to state aid, yes it is useful. But who is it for? What file must she complete? Under what deadline? It takes a state boss in the territories for the piping to work everywhere. The administration needs to do a back flip and embrace the PME culture. Before, when I went to Bercy, it was to avoid people taking money from us. There is to know how to spend it. But the administration is not made for that! It seeks more to preserve public expenditure rather than to distribute aid. However, if we do not do this, we will not get up. It is not a question of watering the sand but of making operational the good ideas imagined by the politician.

In Arnaud Montebourg’s time, there were reindustrialization commissioners. It wasn’t stupid!

Does the creation of delegated prefects for relaunch seem relevant to you?

In Arnaud Montebourg’s time, there were reindustrialization commissioners. It wasn’t stupid! The prefects delegated to the relaunch must be made aware and managed like a team of developers who are asked to promote a new range of products and to ensure follow-up. Otherwise, the fastest will pass in front of the slower which are usually the smallest. And I am warning about one point: there are going to be regional elections and there are still power struggles. We must absolutely prevent this context from impacting the recovery.

Should we go further?

We are campaigning for greater flexibility in the exit of state guaranteed loans which must be repaid from April. When you add up all the debts, companies will not be able to meet all of them. We are therefore proposing the creation of a consolidation loan grouping together all social and tax claims with repayments spread over six to ten years. Otherwise, it will be the direction of the commercial court.

47% of the 2,000 or so executives we interviewed believe that the sustainability of their business is threatened

Are you worried about cascading bankruptcies?

Since October 7, companies in default of payment must report to the commercial court. This procedure had been suspended. Of course, we will see failures rising. Another wave of bankruptcy filings will arrive from the first quarter of 2021. 47% of the approximately 2,000 executives we interviewed believe that the sustainability of their business is threatened. We must help those who had a viable economic model and provide human support to those who file for bankruptcy. Because not all will be saved.

Who is going to pay this accumulating debt?

My children, yours! The elderly of tomorrow will be treated less well than those of today, as will the younger generations. It is illusory to say that all this will have no impact on our social coverage. The only solution is to create wealth. Particularly by working more over a full life. I don’t think that the France of the 39 hours was more anxiety-provoking than the France of the 35 hours.

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