These times are an enormous challenge for us all – we have to stay at home, jobs and businesses are uncertain as we all are searching for ways to emerge from the crisis. Of course, it is more important than ever to put aside personal interests and make a contribution so that we can overcome this crisis as quickly as possible. Health is everyone’s most precious asset, and we must protect and preserve it.
At the same time, it is both essential and sensible to consider and plan how we should proceed on the economic front. Starting from 15 May, the Romanian authorities are expected to lift some of the restrictions imposed during the state of emergency to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan will include reopening schools and resuming economic activities, especially in strongly-hit sectors such as retail and services.
The BRCC has been asked for input by the Minister of Labour & Social Protection to help identify and propose measures to ensure economic stability and create new opportunities on the labour market in Romania and changes or adjustments in labour conditions needed to move away from the current state of emergency.
This represents an important opportunity for businesses (and NGOs) represented by the BRCC to help the Romanian Government by providing grounded and practical suggestions to ease the lockdown and so to help businesses and NGOs to recover. I hope that you will wish to take advantage of this by letting the Chamber know your views and proposals, so that a consolidated set of these can be presented to the Minister.
As a starting point, the following suggestions have already been made.
- Redirecting 3.5% of the income tax from last year to non-profit organizations without filling in the ANAF form.
- Reducing social contributions for employers that were in technical unemployment.
- Incentivize employers to deploy COVID testing at work. Government should offer incentives — roughly equivalent to the cost of an RT-PCR test — for businesses that administer RT-PCR tests to their workers, and grant employers safe harbour from liability for administering these tests. Workplace testing will accelerate re-employment, and also increase consumer confidence in retail businesses that institute universal testing.
- Prioritize testing in high-risk sectors. As testing ramps up, it will be essential to ensure that people working or living in high-risk settings have access to tests. These include healthcare workers; those working at essential businesses; and those working or living in high-risk settings such as nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, police
- Reopen safe, but “non-essential” businesses. States and localities should be responsive to businesses that can operate safely in a pandemic environment, regardless of whether or not their workforce includes elderly or at-risk populations.
- Office cost reduction opportunities – office rent is expensive and flexible work arrangements are yet to be explored in their full functional scope. This will open up opportunities across multiple and linked sectors, such as office space redesign, building remote work systems, software platforms, and cloud-based services.
Please let us know if you have comments on these proposals or new subjects to address to the Minister by close of business on Monday 27 April at firstname.lastname@example.org