ALF Forum stresses importance of specialized financing for GDP and exports
"This is the time to work on innovative solutions in specialized financing," noted Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce and Services, during the ALF Forum, held this Thursday. In a similar view, the president of the Portuguese Association of Leasing, Factoring and Renting, Luís Augusto, points to the sector as an "unequivocal driver of economic growth”.
Portuguese companies must promote their adaptability to the challenges of sustainability and digitalization, and specialized financing is affirmed as one of the means for the transition. This is one of the conclusions reached at the Forum organized this Thursday in Lisbon by the Portuguese Association of Leasing, Factoring and Renting. In a return of the initiative to the presential format, after two years of the pandemic, ALF gathered the associates around the theme "Specialized Financing - The engine of transition in the Portuguese economy".
Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce and Services, who was responsible for opening the ALF Forum, highlighted the new transformation agenda for the decade as a fundamental part of economic development in this period. With sustainability and digitalization as conditions for business success in the post-pandemic, Rita Marques stressed that "we are turning a page, taking into account the pandemic circumstances in which we lived until a few months ago", so, in the Government's view, "this is the time to work new solutions, innovative solutions in terms of specialized financing.
At this meeting held at Centro Cultural de Belém, Luís Augusto, President of the Portuguese Association of Leasing, Factoring and Renting, highlighted the recovery over the past year, in some of the indicators, to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, explaining that "specialized financing continues to position itself as an unequivocal driver of economic growth. The historical evolution of the sector, even in times of crisis, demonstrates this, and the recovery that began in 2021 demonstrates the resilience in face of the strong economic constraints over the last two years," reinforced Luís Augusto.
An example of this is Renting, with a 10.5% increase in production in the number of vehicles during the first quarter of this year - a double-digit year-on-year recovery, still below 2019, but which allows ALF to state that "we believe that Renting will recover to 2019 values by the end of the year".
Leasing, which grew 5% last year to about 2.5 billion euros, also saw a significant increase in the first quarter of this year. From January to March, leasing grew 17.5% compared to the same period in 2021, as a result of the strong contribution of real estate. "We have an additional 60 million euros in new operations, also motivated by the improvement in the construction sector in Portugal," clarified the president of ALF. "These are figures that leave us very optimistic for 2022, and that confirm the crucial role of our associates for the growth of the economy and for the environmental sustainability and innovation of the Portuguese economy," said Luís Augusto. In the path of environmental protection, specialized financing has allowed investment in solar panels and more environmentally friendly buildings, for example.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce and Services highlighted the relevance of good financial instruments, as well as ALF's role in disseminating them to the business community. "There won't be good investments if we don't have good financial instruments available to our entrepreneurs, which often may not be known by all entrepreneurs, especially because we have an economic and business fabric, very sustained in micro, small and medium enterprises." Rita Marques, in a challenge to the leaders and associates of ALF, followed by an assumption of its own responsibilities, stresses that it is up to the ALF to know how to empower the business fabric: "In a meeting I had with ALF's Board, several constraints were identified that need to be regulated." Among these issues, says the Secretary of State, are "the eligibility of some expenses in the framework of community funds" and others of a fiscal nature. "We know that in terms of leasing and renting operations, issues such as IMT and IMI, need to be better cared for and better analyzed by the State," said Rita Marques, stressing the need for administrative simplicity, "one of the proposals I had the opportunity to discuss with the president of ALF," she explained during her speech at the Forum.
The president of the Association, in turn, also referring to the joint meetings between the ALF and the Government, pointed out, before the associates, some of the arguments used in favor of specialized financing. Among them, the security of leasing in the use of financing, considering that "as the lessor is the legal owner of the property, it can serve as a guarantee that there are no deviations of the investment made."
Exports accelerate with the help of specialized financing
At the European level, Portugal is already the third country where Factoring weighs most in the Gross Domestic Product, being worth, last year, 16.4% of the total wealth produced in 2021. "This is the highest value in the history of Factoring in Portugal", emphasized Luís Augusto. As for the participation in exports, Factoring is worth around 5% of the total, representing about 4 billion euros."
On the other hand, referring to the export segment, Isabel Marques, director of AICEP (Portugal's Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade), reported a transition in the category of exported goods, from undifferentiated products to others "incorporating some innovation, design, technology, and higher added value. We have to evolve and move towards a production profile that adds more value, both to companies and to the economy," urged the director of AICEP before an audience of dozens of ALF members, particularly from the Renting and financial sectors.
In a meeting where, besides the export transition, the business transition (theme analyzed by Jorge Portugal, General Director of COTEC Portugal), the energy transition (explained by Nelson Lage, President of the Agency for Energy - ADENE), the digital transition (João Mota Lopes, Oracle Public Sector Lead) and the mobility transition (Rui Rei, President of Parques Tejo E.M.) were also discussed, it was up to the Director of the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (IAPMEI), José Augusto do Vale, to close the session.
"The future of the national economy clearly passes through the increase of exports, and Factoring can and should be an indispensable tool in this path, with its ability to collect in nearly every country in the world," said the President of ALF, stressing that "in a world of constant change, Factoring allows companies to ensure that invoices are paid on the agreed date, and that suppliers also receive on time, something that nowadays is still a difficulty," said Luís Augusto.