Written Answers - Small and Medium Enterprises

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 711 No. 4

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  19.  Deputy Lucinda Creighton  Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton   asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   if he will report on his meeting with a bank (details supplied) in the week of 17 May 2010 regarding the availability of working capital to small businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24435/10]

  20.  Deputy Lucinda Creighton  Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton   asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   if he has met with each of the Irish banks concerning the availability of working capital to small businesses; if he will provide separate reports on the outcome of his meetings with each bank (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24436/10]

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 20 together.

I met separately with Allied Irish Banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland during the week beginning 17 May 2010. These were private meetings held with each bank to discuss the availability of bank credit for businesses, especially SMEs.

At the meetings, I raised concerns about the claims of many small businesses that some bankers were stonewalling loan requests and were not providing credit to viable enterprises. I reminded the banks of the purpose of the recapitalisation package and of the huge investment of taxpayers’ money into the banks aimed at getting our economy moving again.

The banks assured me that they were fully committed to supporting businesses and would meet the requirements laid down for them in the recapitalisation package of 30 March 2010. Their message was that they were open for business and available to provide credit to viable businesses. The two main banks had submitted plans to the Department of Finance and the Credit Review Office on how they intended to meet their requirements and these plans are being reviewed.

Since my meetings, there has been considerable activity and announcements by the banks relating to supports available for the business sector, particularly for SMEs. I welcome these activities and these announcements.

As I have said in the past, however, the promises and activities of the banks must be matched with specific commitments and increased lending. All viable businesses must get appropriate access to bank credit.

The banks’ performance in meeting their obligations under the recapitalisation scheme will be closely monitored by Government. I want to see our banks, which have been rescued at enormous cost to the taxpayer, acting responsibly and in the best interests of small businesses so that we can create jobs in the domestic economy and advance our recovery as a nation.

I will meet with the banks in the future, as necessary, to ensure that they are providing sufficient credit to the business sector.


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