INSCOP survey: Romanians expect the state to help private companies affected by the coronavirus epidemic

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The vast majority of Romanians believe the state should help, through special measures, the private companies financially affected by the coronavirus epidemic and that the EU membership can help Romania overcome this difficult period, says the latest INSCOP Research survey conducted in partnership with Verifield, at the request of CAPITAL magazine, between 20 and 24th of March 2020.

89.9% of the total respondents agree that the state should take special measures to help private companies whose economic activity has been affected by the coronavirus epidemic. 7.3% of those interviewed disagree with this measure, while 2.8% do not know or do not answer.

Asked to choose two main measures that the state should take to support companies/employers financially affected by the coronavirus epidemic, 33% of the respondents indicated loans with low-interest rates guaranteed by the state, 30.3% encouraging banks to defer interest on loans for some time and 31.6% a temporary amendment of the Labor Code to facilitate remote work. 28.9% of the respondents indicated the deferral of payment of social contributions, 22.2% the state aids and 21.3% the payment of state’s debts to private companies (VAT refunds, arrears for finished works and services). 1.1% of the respondents indicated other measures. 0.8% choose “none of the measures indicated”. 5.8% represents the percentage of non-responses.

A share of 43.5% of Romanians believes that the state should help all private companies affected by the coronavirus epidemic, regardless of whether or not they paid their contributions before the crisis. 52.5% of respondents believe that the state should help only those private companies affected by the coronavirus epidemic that, before the crisis, have paid all their contributions on time. 4% do not know or do not answer.
36.5% of Romanians believe that the state should help all private companies in all sectors of the economy, regardless of how much their activity has been affected by the coronavirus epidemic. The state should only help private companies from the sectors most affected by the coronavirus epidemic, according to 60.2% of the respondents. 3.3% do not know or do not answer.
87.6% of Romanians consider that in the next period, the state should encourage by concrete measures the major private investment projects in the Romanian economy. 6.8% disagree with such an idea, while 5.6% do not know or do not answer.
The idea that the state should initiate major investment projects financed from public funds meets the agreement of 71.4% of Romanians, while 22.7% express their disagreement. 6% is the percentage of non-answers.

Remus Ștefureac, CEO of INSCOP Research: 90% of Romanians agree with the statement that the state should take special measures to help private companies whose economic activity has been affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
Romanians manifest a rational attitude towards the use of state aids. Thus, over 50% of the respondents think that the state should help only those private companies affected by the coronavirus epidemic that, before the crisis, have paid all their contributions on time. An even larger majority (60%) support the idea that the state should only assist private companies from the sectors most affected by the coronavirus epidemic. Such an approach would have the advantage that, given the limited budget, the resources could be directed to the functional companies and those most affected by the epidemic.
However, a much stronger majority (almost 90%) supports the idea that in the next period, the state should encourage through concrete measures major private investment projects in the Romanian economy. Also, over 70% support the idea that in the coming period, the state should initiate large investment projects financed from public funds. The exit from the crisis and especially the economic recovery can only be achieved through investments. The Romanian state will have to play an essential role, either directly, through public investments, or through smart regulations that encourage private investment and public-private partnerships (for example, the involvement of the state-owned company Romgaz in the Black Sea gas exploitation project).

A crisis of such magnitude is unprecedented, and a triple responsibility from the state, private companies, and citizens are required to overcome it. The burden of helping employees must be shared between the state and the private sector, at least by those companies that have a good financial situation. In such a crisis, there is no room for selfishness on the part of the companies and nor for hesitations from the state. After all, companies that will make every effort to keep their employees will be the first to recover. And the state has every interest in protecting the taxpayers who pay the contributions to the public budget, much needed in the upcoming months.

In a previous INSCOP poll released on March 23, Romanians viewed as important and very important the government measures to support the economy and the labor market affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

EU membership in the context of the coronavirus epidemic

80.7% of the respondents agree that Romania’s EU membership can help us fight the coronavirus epidemic. 13.4% disagree, while 6% do not know or do not respond.
Romania’s EU membership can help us overcome the economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus epidemic in the opinion of 72.6% of Romanians. 18.8% of respondents believe the contrary, while the percentage of non-answers is 8.5%.

“Despite the initial slow mobilization of the European Union, the vast majority of Romanians agree with the idea that Romania’s EU membership can help us both to fight the coronavirus epidemic (the health crisis) and economic difficulties caused by the outbreak (the economic crisis). Although according to the treaties, health policies are the responsibility of the Member States, not the Union’s, exceptional measures have already been announced by the EU for helping states to manage the health crisis and to limit the economic consequences. It is obvious that in such a crisis, it is infinitely more advantageous to be a part of the Union than outside the European project. And the upcoming months will prove this, given the substantial measures, worth billions of euros, taken by the EU cannot be compared with the isolated PR moves of certain states. And the fact that the population understands this shows the resilience of most Romanians who are constantly showing favorable attitudes towards the European Union,” Remus Ștefureac, CEO of INSCOP Research explained.

Loans from the World Bank or IMF
64% of the respondents consider that if the situation of the Romanian economy will worsen in the next six months, Romania should apply for a loan from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. 23.4% oppose such an idea, while 12.5% do not know or do not respond.
“All the surveys conducted in the last years by INSCOP Research and not only showed that the IMF is not a popular financial institution in Romania, mainly because of its association with austerity policies. However, asked if Romania should apply for a loan from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, if the economic situation will worsen in the next six months, over 60% of Romanians respond affirmatively. This kind of answer reinforces the previous conclusions regarding Romanians’ deep fears in the face of possible serious economic consequences of the coronavirus epidemic,” said  the CEO of INSCOP Research.

What institutions can help reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy?
In the opinion of the Romanians, the institution or organization that can contribute the most to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy is the Government, with 69.4%. Next in the top is the National Bank of Romania with 65.5% and the Parliament with 61.7%. In the fourth place, we find the international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, European Investment Bank, etc.) with 59.4%, followed by the President with 57%, and the commercial banks with 55.5%. The ranking is concluded by the employers’ associations/business associations with 47.2%, Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry with 46.7%, and trade unions with 38.3%.

Remus Ștefureac, CEO of INSCOP Research: “The Romanians have expectations from many institutions/organizations to take measures to reduce the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. In the case of six of the nine institutions tested in the survey, more than half of the population considers that they can contribute to a great extent to reduce the economic impact of the epidemic. These are in order: the Government, the National Bank of Romania, the Parliament, the international financial institutions, the President of Romania and the commercial banks. Almost half of the Romanians have high expectations regarding the role of the employers’ associations and Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These answers show that, ultimately, the economic solutions will not be provided by a single entity. The solutions must be the result of a deep dialogue between all the parties that have the attributions, expertise and legitimate interests to contribute to the recovery of the economy. “

The attitude towards Romanians from the diaspora returning home amid the coronavirus outbreak

Asked if the state should take special measures to encourage Romanians that are working abroad and that are returning home in the context of the coronavirus epidemic to remain in the country, 81.7% of the respondents answered yes and 14.3% no. 4% represents the percentage of non-responses.
49.3% of the respondents consider that, if they do not have health insurance, the citizens from the diaspora who return to the country and are diagnosed with coronavirus should pay for the medical services in Romania. 46.5% think otherwise, and 4.2% do not know or do not answer the question.
The return of a part of the Romanians working abroad is a good thing in the view of 68.9% of the total respondents, because, amid the labor crisis, if they are to remain to work in Romania, they could help to revive the economy. 24.8% of Romanians believe that the return of a part of Romanians working abroad is a bad thing because it could deepen economic problems expected to emerge after the end of the coronavirus epidemic. 6.3% do not know or do not answer.

Remus Ștefureac, CEO of INSCOP Research: “Beyond the current crisis, the trauma caused by the massive emigration of Romanians in the last decade strongly influences the Romanians’ opinions given that the vast majority believe that the state should encourage, by special measures, the Romanians that are returning home from abroad to remain permanently in Romania. Thus, the most serious health crisis of our generation could create an important opportunity for the Romanian economy and society by regaining a significant part of its human capital.
The payment of health insurance by Romanians from the diaspora infected with coronavirus is a topic that divides society. Almost half of the Romanians believe that the citizens from the diaspora who return to the country and are diagnosed with coronavirus should pay for the medical services in Romania if they do not have health insurance. The rest have a contrary opinion. The urgency of the medical situation of Romanians from the diaspora infected with coronavirus largely explains the position of those who believe that the infected citizens should not pay for the health care services. However, under normal circumstances, public systems cannot function efficiently if they do not have financing, more precisely if the beneficiaries do not pay for the provided public services.
On the other hand, a larger majority, little over two-thirds of the population, appreciate the long-term benefits of the return of Romanians from abroad. This phenomenon is perceived as a good thing because Romanians from the diaspora could help to revive the economy if they are to remain to work in Romania.

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