Fabian Demicoli

GRTU President calls for launch of guarantee scheme a new JEREMIE scheme and lower interest rates


GRTU
President Paul Abela has called for action at last Friday`s  MCESD meeting dedicated to Access to Finance.
Mr Abela stated that though GRTU places regular pressure on banks in order to
better support enterprises, GRTU also supports local banks and is very pleased
with the strong banks we have.

Mr
Abela said that Access to Finance remains one of the biggest hurdles businesses
face on a daily basis and while we have been speaking at length on the topic
implementation has been much slower than desired. The approved Credit Guarantee
Scheme we hear has been stalled since June due to lengthy discussions with
banks with 700 applications kept pending and not a single loan has been
approved.

The
JEREMIE Scheme that worked so well has now come to an end and we do not have
another scheme ready in place because an application has not yet been
submitted. In order to avoid the gap we are currently experiencing preparations
should have been done beforehand as we know how long the process takes, we
should have learned this from the first experience we had with JEREMIE.

Access
to Finance cannot be time barred, we do not afford to have project held up because
the schemes that should facilitate finance are experiencing bureaucratic
delays. These schemes are most important to SMEs and impinge heavily on their
competitiveness. Compared to other EU firms micro and small Maltese enterprises
have no large sale volumes and therefore banking costs are not only too high in
absolute terms but also at cost pet unit sold.

The
GRTU President once again mentioned the immediate requirement to have the
interest rates for businesses revised as the rates were still too high and
prohibitive. The Governor of the Central Banks proposed the establishment of a
development bank as another institution that would complement the banks.

This
MCESD meeting was instigated after the strong comments on excessive bank
charges and bank interests on advance imposed by banks on micro and small
enterprises. GRTU had already demanded former Minister Tonio Fenech for a
report on the issue but the report produced by MFSA was never published and we
have no idea of what action MFSA had taken. Now again GRTU is asking for a
detailed analysis and comparative study with competing economies and a plan of
action to remedy the situation. This needs to be done over maximum of two
months.

In
order to ensure action the Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna gave assurance
that he is ready to form a restricted MCESD committee specifically on Access to
Finance to implement the proposals that have for so long been discussed. The
Minister also confirmed that the establishment of a Development Bank was in the
Labour Party's Electoral programme and therefore must be implemented.

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