Thursday 25 December 2014

Oireachtas report calls for greater support for SMEs

Published 16/07/2014 | 15:36

SFA chief Patricia Callan
SFA chief Patricia Callan

Credit Unions should have a greater role in supporting small and medium-sized businesses, an Oireachtas report has claimed.

It also called for commercial lending regulations imposed on certain credit unions by the Central Bank to be eased.

They form part of a series of recommendations published today by the Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation  committee to help boost access to finance for SMEs.

TDs and Senators also called for independent verification of lending rates to SMEs by the banks to be carried out, as well as the development of non-bank funding initiatives.

Business lobby groups welcomed the recommendations. The Small Firms Association said supply of finance is second only to finding more customers as the most pressing issue being faced by companies.

“It is critical that the practical recommendations contained in this report are accepted and acted upon immediately,” said SFA director Patricia Callan.

“They have the potential to make a real difference to improving SME financing.”

The committee’s report said there was  an over-reliance on bank loans and overdrafts and the Committee considers that the development of non-banking sector funding initiatives to fund growth in the SME sector should be strongly encouraged.

It also called for credit unions to have a greater role in job creation and in supporting SMEs. Commercial lending regulations imposed on certain credit unions by the Central Bank should be eased, the committee said.

Committee Vice Chairman John Lyons said the availability of funding and supports for small and medium sized businesses is a key priority in national efforts to achieve economic recovery.

“The small and medium sized enterprise sectors are integral and important elements of our economy and if we are serious about our indigenous businesses we need to encourage and help create the best environment for them to operate in,” he said.

“The availability of funding and supports are essential for many small businesses to get up and running, flourish, innovate and expand.”

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