Stylianos Zakof, Chairman of the Managing Board, Hellenic Business Association: Our goal now is to protect the proper functioning of companies as best we can

At the time of the state of emergency in Serbia, the HBA has organized its operations in a manner that is safe and convenient for both the members of the Managing Board and the member companies.

As part of our special online edition, we talked to Stylianos Zakof, the Chairman of the Managing Board of the Hellenic Business Association (HBA), who says the following:”We are all working from home and will continue to do so as long as we can organize our operations in that way. We are continuing to inform our members of the pandemic situation. Together with other business associations, we have sent a letter to the Minister of Finance, thus requesting the Serbian government implementing certain measures, as we strongly believe that the state will provide assistance to businesses.”

How did you organize your business activities?

As you already know, the Hellenic Business Association (HBA) in Serbia is a socially responsible organization that supports any initiative and activity that can contribute to boosting the traditionally friendly relations between Greece and Serbia, as well as safe operations of Greek businesses in the country. In this regard, the organization strives to apply ethical principles in its business activities that have a direct and positive impact on the working conditions of its member companies, their employees and the environment, thereby creating a credible and responsible business community.

Even at this time, during the state of emergency in Serbia, the HBA has organized its operations in a manner that is safe and convenient for both the members of the Managing Board and the member companies. In this context, we have delayed holding any kind of events that involve a gathering of a lot of people. All of us work from home (as long as the nature of the business allows it), meetings are held online and our goal is now focused on safeguarding the proper functioning of the member companies to the best of our abilities while keeping them informed about the situation of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

Together with other business associations, you have sent a letter to the Minister of Finance. What do you expect to happen after that letter? What measures could the Government of Serbia implement to ensure economically viable conditions for doing business?

In cooperation with other bilateral business organizations, we have decided to send a letter to the Serbian Minister of Finance, at a time that is crucial for many of our members. In the letter, we have requested the implementation of additional measures by the Serbian government, such as deferral of payment of taxes and fees for small and medium-sized enterprises, easier access to bank loans and approving subsidies / grants.

As the pandemic of the new virus threatens to disrupt the work of a large number of companies, we firmly believe that the Serbian government will provide appropriate assistance to enable companies to survive in the crisis. After all, we are confident that the solidarity of the country’s leadership will be reciprocated by various investments in the future, both foreign and Greek, because our nation knows how to value good treatment.

How do you spend your private time during the pandemic?

Although, undoubtedly, the pandemic has had a huge negative impact on the financial and business sectors, it is also a great warning for humanity. All people need to understand the message that has been sent to us, which is to slow down a little, to be grateful for what we have and for the people around us, to protect our fellow citizens and to devote more time to our families.

If we can single out something positive from this difficult period, it would certainly be that we have renewed our relationships with children and spouses. Before the pandemic, we did not have time to indulge in reading good books, playing board games and watching films, but now, we can do that with our nearest and dearest again.

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

The first thing we will do after the state of emergency is abolished is to review all the resources and capabilities that we, as an association, can use to further contribute to the reintegration of our member companies back into the usual work routine and, of course, go out with my friends.

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