Banks still not loaning money to SMEs

Regardless of what the previous Government did and, in particular, what the Government is doing in the current year, small businesses are not being approved for bank loans, Fianna Fáil deputy John McGuinness told the Dáil.

Regardless of what the previous Government did and, in particular, what the Government is doing in the current year, small businesses are not being approved for bank loans, Fianna Fáil deputy John McGuinness told the Dáil.

Speaking during a debate on a new Credit Guarantee Bill, he said questions must be asked as to what exactly the banks are doing with the €3.5 billion they are supposed to lend to small businesses.

“We must ask what they were doing last year and the previous year,” he said. “They have been calling in businesses throughout the country, restructuring their overdrafts into loans and describing it as new business. That is not new business. They have been grabbing lodgements made to businesses and offsetting them against loans rather than putting them into a current account and holding businesses to account in that way. That is not necessarily doing business as the Government set down for the banks in this House in terms of the money they received to fund the small businesses of this country. We should not tolerate it.”

Somebody must call in the banks, he said.

“I am regularly told the Government calls in the banks and sets down the reasons they should lend. The Government gives the banks the money but small businesses are not getting it. One could ask how the economy could function properly and how jobs could be sustained or created on the basis of banks simply not banking. They are not acting as bankers to businesses in this country.”

Deputy McGuinness said until the attitude of the banks is changed, they will not lend money to SMEs. What they were doing was correcting their own balance sheets, doing their own business and not lending money. That could not continue.

“Everyone on all sides of the House has articulated that point of view. We are not making up the stories. We are giving the facts in the course of many debates in the House, yet nothing has happened. There is a great deal of activity but no action. That is not a political point. It is what is being said by small businesses throughout the country. They are looking for real action and real banking. Until they get that, this economy will perform poorly or not as well as it should and is not going anywhere in terms of job creation. We continuously await a new direction from Government or a new direction from the banks.”