BANK lending figures to SMEs are a sign that confidence is returning.
That's according to Fine Gael deputy Áine Collins, who has welcomed a Central Bank report which shows that new lending to SMEs is at its highest rate in two years. Deputy Collins said this is a sign that confidence is returning, that businesses are keen to invest and that the banks are playing their part in ensuring access to credit.
"Trends in Business Credit and Deposits', which was published by the Central Bank last week, showed that new lending to SMEs during Quarter 4, 2012 amounted to €677 million, representing the highest amount drawn down by businesses in two years, since Quarter 4, 2010. This is significant and leads us to believe that we are headed in the right direction in terms making credit available to our SMEs," said Deputy Collins.
"While a number of small and medium sized enterprises are having their existing loans restructured, the amount of new lending being engaged in by the banks is said to be a good barometer of how things are on the ground.
"Anecdotally, we have been hearing that banks are not lending to businesses and that businesses are not seeking access to credit, in some cases due to the belief that they will be refused," she added.
"The Credit Review Office has been available to people who feel they have been refused credit unnecessarily and the Office has been instrumental in having around 60% of appeal decisions overturned.
"Our banks have undergone monumental change in the last two years since this Government came to Office. Ensuring that they were adequately capitalised so that they are enabled to play their part in our economic recovery has been key to restoring our banking sector to health. Reports are that SME demands for credit are still low but with an estimated 2,000 applications for credit being granted each week I would encourage all businesses, big and small, who feel that they could benefit from additional credit to get in contact with their bank in a bid to accessing additional funds."