Majo Mićović, President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce: We must learn how to defend data against malicious attacks in times of pandemic

The SSCC events are now organized in the form of webinars, and the first in a series of webinars was held on March 26, 2020. We expect a second webinar to take place soon.

In a series of interviews with representatives of business and diplomacy, we spoke with the President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (SSCC) in Serbia, Majo Mićović, about how the Chamber has organized its operations during the state of emergency, hacker attacks on data and the importance of ensuring data protection.

How did you organize your business activities?

The Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce has set up online work to support its member firms. Among the first measures we participated in was 12 bilateral chambers of commerce jointly addressing the Republic of Serbia’s Ministry of Finance with a proposal of support measures for small and medium-sized enterprises during the state of emergency.

Besides, the SSCC events are now organized in the form of webinars, and the first in a series of webinars was held on March 26, 2020, in collaboration with Adecco. The purpose of these webinars is to outline the role of HR in crises, explain how to organize work from home and keep employees motivated.

We are expecting a second webinar to take place soon, co-organized with Sky Express on the topic of safe teleworking. Specifically, a large number of hacker groups have begun to use the pandemic, i.e. people working from home, as an opportunity to devaluate the secrecy and security of business data. The webinar participants will have the opportunity to learn about the most important methods of defending their data against malicious attacks.

Of course, we have also been receiving individual inquiries from members regarding the new changes in the way they work, the legislation and the measures that must be adhered to. We are trying to give professional advice to each inquiry. Our members also regularly receive a newsletter with the latest news that is relevant to their business.

Together with other business associations, you have sent a letter to the Finance Minister. What are your expectations? What measures could the Government of Serbia implement to create economic conditions for doing business?

The representatives of 12 bilateral chambers of commerce have launched an initiative to urge the Ministry of Finance to start implementing additional support measures for small and medium-sized companies which have been experiencing either a decline in their activities or a complete halt due to the coronavirus contagion. We have proposed the following support measures – small and medium-sized enterprises having their tax and social levies deferred (namely, reducing flat-rate tax liabilities and exemption from paying payroll tax and contributions), easier access to bank loans and ensuring direct support in the form of subsidies or feedback programmes and liquidity guarantees. The Government of the Republic of Serbia is busy preparing plans and measures for particularly vulnerable companies, as well as for other businesses in order to preserve jobs.

How are you spending your private time during the pandemic?

As a responsible individual, I adhere to the state of emergency measures imposed by the Government of Serbia. Furthermore, I actively run several companies and funds, mostly through teleworking. Whenever I get a chance, I try to support initiatives against this scourge together with my partners. Unfortunately, I have very little time left for my family and social life.

What will you do first after the state of emergency is cancelled?

As the President of the Chamber, together with the Managing Board members, I will try to revive the activities of the Chamber, catch up to at least some of the planned projects, and in particular, in cooperation with the Swiss Embassy and other chambers, reinstate the economic and social life of Serbia to resemble the one that preceded the pandemic as much as possible.

In the companies I run, I will do my best to return to the operational level and business and financial status the level we had planned for 2020. I am confident that this will not be difficult because we had been carefully preparing for this period and also because of the measures that the Serbian government will implement to help the economy to rehabilitate faster.

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