Scheme okays 28 SMEs

Scheme okays 28 SMEs

An initiative offering 3 billion baht in soft loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has had 28 companies approved, obtaining loans for a combined 70.8 million baht, according to an Industry Ministry report.

The loan programme under the Pracha Rat initiative began accepting applications on Nov 15.

The ministry will close enrolment after approving applications reaching a total of 3 billion baht.

The scheme offers an annual interest rate of 1% for seven years.

Kobchai Sungsitthisawad, the ministry's permanent secretary, said 700 applications are pending consideration for a combined amount of 2 billion baht.

"The ministry expects to end the loan programme by February," he said.

According to the ministry's report, most applicants are from Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Songkhla, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Phuket.

"The loans aim to support SMEs in the agriculture, creative and digital sectors," Mr Kobchai said.

SMEs can submit application documents at the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand and the SME Support & Rescue Center.

Mr Kobchai said the government's policy prioritises improving the business efficiency of SMEs in a bid to boost the country's economy.

SMEs are the largest business operators, contributing 80% of Thai GDP.

The loan programme is part of the 20-billion-baht Pracha Rat fund supporting SMEs.

Under the fund, the ministry reported that 10,567 SMEs obtained loans worth a combined 16.1 billion baht in 2017.

Mr Kobchai said the ministry plans to spend 52.6 million baht in 2020 for five SME support projects for new entrepreneurs; food and processed food companies; SMEs in the eastern region; new circular economy businesses; and research and innovation activities.

"The five new projects will help SMEs contribute more than 150 million baht," he said.

The ministry is considering 17 new SME support projects worth 143 million baht. It plans to propose an administrative committee for SME development funds under the Pracha Rat scheme to approve the plans.

"The SMEs need to cope with the Thailand 4.0 initiative and improve themselves with greater efficiency," Mr Kobchai said.

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