‘Bank credit not big issue’ – chamber chief

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WITH Deputy Kieran O’Donnell claiming that the government needs to get credit flowing from the banks again to assist small businesses in Limerick, Chamber of Commerce chief, Maria Kelly, remains adamant the credit situation is not near as acute as portrayed.

There are, she argues, other problems the local business community have to contend with than perceived lack of finance, and which need to be addressed urgently.

O’Donnell has proposed a bank loan guarantee scheme to assist small businesses.

However, Ms Kelly said that a recent local survey had shown it was not such a major issue with their members.

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“We hear and read a lot about businesses allegedly crying out for financial support from the banks, but that is not our experience.

“Yes, there are probably a few more hurdles to be jumped now than in the past, especially with new business ventures, but that is because lending institutions have adopted a more cautious approach.

“We need to clean up the city and get vacant units filled…then there is the parking issue”.

Bank of Ireland, meanwhile, say they are very much open for business, with a high approval rate.

O’Donnell says many small businesses are facing a very uncertain future.  

According to him, the government’s banking strategy has failed, because affordable credit is still not flowing to these businesses.

He points out that one of the key recommendations of  the  multi-agency jobs taskforce chaired by Denis Brosnan, was the supply of credit to small and medium sized businesses in Limerick and the Mid-West.  

“This is still not  happening, 11 months after the recommendation was made.

“Furthermore, Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe, has himself admitted that the €74 billion bank bailout has not worked and banks are still not lending to business, but his response to the situation has only been to talk further with the banks”.

This, continued deputy O’Donnell, is wholly inadequate. “Talking to the banks simply does not constitute a solution to the problem.  It hasn’t worked in the past and it clearly won’t work now.

“Instead, we need to put in place concrete measures to ensure credit will flow  to businesses, and in particular we need a credit guarantee scheme to be put in place now”.