A decision made by the Interministerial Committee for the Modernisation of Public Action dating from 17 July 2013 has been confirmed by its integrated in the new French Finance Bill. The announcement is brutal: the State will be axing aid to CCIs by 270 million euros
and to Chambres des Métiers et de l’Artisanat (Chambers of Trades and Handicrafts) by 35 million euros in 2014. With its 15 billion euros in savings, the government targets +0.9% growth in 2014, following +0.1% in 2013, as well as stimulating employment and
rebalancing public balances.
True, the CCIs have resources other than those of the State. The four billion euros making up their global finances derive primarily from their own services. But their budgets are not fungible: profits generated from an airport managed by a Chamber of Commerce cannot serve to pay an apprenticeship school or support exporter businesses.
As a result, some of the Chambers are seeing red. “This is a real attack against our networks,” protests Bernard Kleynhoff, President of the CCI of Nice. In Bordeaux, where tax resources to be cut represent 4.5 million euros per year whereas the CCI produced an estimated net profit of 5 million euros last year, the team is already thinking about a strategy to knock down costs. “We are in the process of measuring the consequences of these reductions in a short timeframe, and this may mean giving up certain of our activities. I am thinking about a 5,000m2 locale that we own on Place Ravezies in Bordeaux, on which we were planning to set up a business incubator, or else our financial contribution to certain big events such as the Solitaire du Figaro sailing race,” comments Chamber President Pierre Goguet.
Pooling resources and “tightening up everywhere”
Disparate reactions were voiced at the Université des CCI in Bordeaux at the end of September. President of the CCIs of France, André Marcon, therefore asked each of the branches to pool their means and to “tighten up. We are going to refocus our activity on the heart of our metier, service to enterprises,” he explained.
The MEDEF in Burgundy demands that money be restored to enterprises
This budgetary amputation should have little effect on enterprises. Taxes earmarked for CCIs take around 1.3 billion euros per year from companies. As a result, the MEDEF is demanding that government restore this proportion of tax to enterprises and that an equivalent reduction on company taxation be envisaged. “It would be legitimate to allow enterprises to benefit from this measure as it is they who largely finance the CCIs,” declares Pierre-Antoine Kern, President of the MeEDEF Burgundy.