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FORBES interview with Dimitris Raptis, Co-CEO & Chief Investment Officer Globalworth

Through the Globalworth Foundation, we donated 200,000 euros to the Romanian Red Cross, to help fund medical supplies as well as logistical, human and material support

  1. What business decisions has your company made since the outbreak of coronavirus?

The safety and well-being of the employees and customers as well as business continuity and safeguarding of the economic activity are of primary importance. We have implemented all appropriate measures required by law and all relevant authorities. We believe that each company must carry out its own assessment regarding the measures that they apply in this exceptional situation.

  1. What are the measures your company has taken to support the employees?  

The measures taken concern both the 700 Globalworth tenants and tens of thousands of employees working at our buildings across Romania and Poland on a daily basis. Although many of them now work from home, for others the nature of their job doesn’t allow them to do so. We comply with all health and safety norms and have taken all necessary and appropriate relevant measures in our portfolio, especially in the common areas where the risks are highest.

We have heightened the measures in all our office buildings, and we have also implemented a very strict daily cleaning program at the end of the workday, after our tenants have left the building. All surfaces with high traffic, such as receptions, stairs, lobbies, elevators and toilets are disinfected with a special, extremely powerful product that destroys viruses, approved by the relevant authorities. These spaces are being cleaned every two hours. In addition, Globalworth has placed dispensers with alcohol-based disinfectant in all its lobbies.

On all our screens we show videos with hygiene tips and measures that each of our tenants should follow, such as washing hands as often as possible, using the dispensers with alcohol-based disinfectant, how to use masks or how to sneeze or cough safely. We also explain the rules on using the emergency 112 number in the case of first symptoms and / or if people have travelled to countries with confirmed cases.

  1. What are the governmental measures that should be taken in the next period to limit the negative effects of coronavirus in the sector in which your company is pursuing its business activities?

Following the current situation in Romania, we made, together with the members of AREI (The Association of Real Estate Investors in Romania), a list of emergency measures to try to better safeguard the real-estate industry during these times. The list includes measures such as:

  • Reduction of tax on salaries and related contributions for companies with construction activities in the CAEN code over a period of 3 to 6 months
  • Extension of the payment term for the income tax, CAS, CASS and CAM for a period of three months with a discount of 5% - 10% for the companies that decide to pay
  • Deferment of the payment term of the income tax, respectively of the tax on the incomes of the small enterprises for the fiscal year 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 until 25.07.2020
  • Deferment of deadlines for filing tax returns/ financial statements
  • Simplification of the application of the 5% VAT rate for homes (apartments) for the threshold of 100,000 euro
  • Full digitalization of ANAF and of the territorial directions, which will allow the continuation of the activity of the taxpayers without having to move/ walk
  • Automatically extend the authorizations / certificates / approvals with the validity period that expires during the state of emergency, with the possibility of extending the term with another 2 months
  • Ensuring a permanent functioning of the central and local public administration authorities responsible for authorizing the execution of construction works.

The compiled list of requested and proposed (fiscal and non-fiscal) measures will be filed with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Minister and the Minister of Development and Administration. 

Other relevant central and local public authorities will be approached depending on specific issues and cases. This way, we all hope to limit to the maximum extent possible the negative impact of this crisis and to get the market back to work as soon as possible.

  1. What are the possible scenarios for your business if the coronavirus continues and/ or escalates? What about the economic impact in Romania?

There will be a significant impact on the global economy, which will be obviously felt in Romania too. As the situation is still very fluid, we cannot estimate the magnitude of the crisis yet. Therefore, we are prepared with the business continuity for several scenarios and at the right time we can intervene - depending on how things evolve. We are living in situations where we have rapidly changing probabilities. For sure, there will be a significant impact on the global economy, but we will be able to assess the magnitude of the effect only in the months to come. Amid this situation, the safety and wellbeing of our people, clients and communities continues to be our top priority while we try to safeguard the business, protect its assets and aim to limit the liabilities and the consequences from this crisis that evolves day by day. 

  1. How do you think you could help the community – social and/ or the business one? 

We decided, through the Globalworth Foundation, to donate 200,000 euros to the Romanian Red Cross, to help fund medical supplies as well as logistical, human and material support to aid our country’s response to the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This is because, in the current context, the support of the health system is vital and the amount will assure the purchaising  of vital items such as medical ventilators for intensive care units, disinfectant bottles, protective suits, safety goggles, single-use sanitary masks and protective gloves. The supplies acquired will go to the “Prof. Matei Balș” National Institute, the biggest  medical institution for infectious diseases in Romania, and the first line of defence in the COVID-19 emergency. We have great respect for the medical staff and all the people who maintain the essential services in these difficult times. Our financial help comes as a vital support for them.

Aside this donation, we support and encourage our tenants and our business partners to take all possible preventive measures to reduce the risk of illness. At the same time, however, I would strongly encourage everyone to demonstrate solidarity and doing whatever we can to assist our community and alleviate the suffering of those in need, especially at such difficult times. Whether it is a monetary contribution, volunteer work, or even something as simple as keeping an eye to your elderly neighbour. Small gesture, big impact: every little thing we do now for others mean a lot for the future. Let's be human!

Interview published on the Forbes website. Check the Romanian version HERE