Every day you are able to read the stories about organising of diplomatic and business activities by the embassies, institutions, companies, culture and public figures. We spoke with dr Ronald Seeliger, President of German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK Serbia) and CEO of Hemofarm about how they organise their business activities, in both, AHK Serbian and Hemofarm: „We know that we are responsible and we have obligations to the health system, not only in Serbia but all over the world, and we do our best. We are all affected by the current situation, but I would say that SMEs are more vulnerable to this situation“, he said.
How did you organize your business activities?
I am a German and I happened to be in Germany when all these measures were announced. So I am stuck here, but I spend daily some 12 hours of the phone and video-calls. This is how we are managing things. The same applies for the Chamber of Commers and the same applies to business companies. As much as I understand it is the only way to organise things. Somehow it is a very good thing, since we are talking now more than ever before, we stay inside, but let’s not get used to it, since at least in Germany, it is very sunny and very warm and I would very much want to change this.
You signed together with other business association a document and sent it to Serbian Finance Minister, Sinisa Mali. What do you expect from Serbian Government, which measures should be implemented?
We are all affected by the current situation, but I would say that SMEs are more vulnerable to this situation since they have less means, less liquidity than the bigger ones have. So, together with 11 chmabers of commerce we have sent the letter to the Ministry of Finance kin a form of an open letter, a petition, and pledged the Government to support the SMEs, but also other companies.What did we ask for? We asked for deferring taxes and social benefits for SMEs, we asked for easier bank loans and further, we asked for the support in form od subsidies and liquidity, even some support for keeping the employees. Because it is something that has to be dealt with on a daily basis. There are some sectors that sre more hit, while there are some that are hit less: tourism, hospitality, culture, transport are very much effected, others are medium affected or less affected, but in the end they will be all supported since they are the backbone of the economy. And there is a time after corona when we will all have to go back to business. We want everybody to be able to come back to work.
How are you spending your private time during the pandemic?
Private time during the pandemics is somewhat limited, since I am on the phone all days, including weekends and this very moment. Even when I am not on the phone everybody’s talking about the bloody virus. It is somehow and sometimes going through my nose. But in order to take some balance, we in Germany are still allowed to take a walk outside, or have a stroll, but frankly, I am doing everything to calm down. We have meditations and we are reading books. These things distract you from the current situation and refresh your mind. Once, when the normal times come back, I guess it will be a nice thing. I tried to find some online courses, but I had to put them down on my list, since frankly, I don’t have time for this in this very moment.
What will you do first after the state of emergency is cancelled?
I am very much looking forward for this crisis to end and to come back to Serbia, because for me it is a kind of a disaster. Sitting here and not being able to interact with my people directly. Some of us are still in our companies, since they need production, transport, logistics, they are working also on the site, and I would love to see them again. My job is about meeting people. I like meeting people, so I can’t wait to go back. I also respect them and cherish them and I would like to show and express my gratitude for all thing they did at this very monent, since it is really really amazing.
We know that we are responsible and we have obligations to the health system, not only in Serbia but all over the world, and we do our best. So thanks to them and I am very much looking forward as soon as possible to go back and enjoy normal life again.