Saturday 14 December 2019

SME financing on agenda for Troika review

The final visit by Troika officials in October 2013. Pictured leaving the Department of Finance are IMF official Peter Breuer ( left), Craig Beaumont (centre), IMF Mission Chief for Ireland.
The final visit by Troika officials in October 2013. Pictured leaving the Department of Finance are IMF official Peter Breuer ( left), Craig Beaumont (centre), IMF Mission Chief for Ireland.

Colm Kelpie

The Troika will assess financing conditions for small and medium-sized businesses during its second post-bailout review next week.

Representatives will meet lobby groups the Small Firms Association (SFA) and the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) during their four-day visit here.

They will also hold meetings with senior officials from the Department of Finance, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Department of Finance said the Troika will not be meeting Finance Minister Michael Noonan or Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin.

A spokesman for the Department said the representatives will not be examining policy issues but will be solely focusing on the country's ability to repay the bailout money.

However, the SFA said the Troika has requested a meeting with it to discuss financing for small businesses.

"On the agenda it's financing conditions for SMEs," SFA chief Patricia Callan said.

"This is the first time that we have met them specifically on this topic.

"When they first got here we would have been talking about a lot of bigger macro issues."

Ms Callan said SFA will be looking to discuss a range of issues including the broader developments around the banking sector as well as the new Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), which will, through the banks, lend to SMEs on favourable terms.

Isme chief Mark Fielding will also meet the representatives.

He poured cold water on the SBCI, claiming products from the banks won't be ready until March of next year, despite government claims lending could begin by the end of this year.

"We just see that the SBCI is being postponed and postponed," he said.

"I will be very surprised if I see money out of that before the end of March."

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