SME package with soft loans on the cards

SME package with soft loans on the cards

BoI perks also expected to stimulate economy

The government plans to launch a new package of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) support measures, in which soft loans and Board of Investment (BoI) incentives could be integral.

The BoI is considering investment privileges for SMEs, while the Bank of Thailand and Government Savings Bank (GSB) are mulling soft loans to alleviate SMEs' financial costs, said Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana.

The Finance Ministry has delegated the Comptroller-General's Department to seek approaches to offering incentives to SMEs to take part in state auctions without distorting the market.

Moreover, offering privileges to support the establishment of matching funds to invest in SMEs is under consideration, Mr Uttama said.

Investment stimulus measures for SMEs are a means to boost the economy, in addition to accelerating state agencies' and enterprises' investment budget disbursement, he said.

Amid the sagging economy, most SMEs are in need of fresh funding, prompting the government to step up efforts to help them by introducing aid measures.

The assistance package consists of various measures, including credit guarantees, low-rate loans and relaxation of regulations associated with SME debt restructuring to match SMEs' characteristics, classified into three groups: those who want to access financial sources but cannot, those whose debts have turned sour and those who can access financial institution lending but need additional liquidity.

Mr Uttama said the government has instructed all state agencies that have investment budgets to prepare bid documents and terms of reference in advance to be prepared to immediately begin the auction process when the 2020 budget spending bill takes effect.

The parliament on Saturday approved the 3.2-trillion-baht budget for fiscal 2020 before forwarding it to the Senate.

The outlays have been postponed from regular scheduling that typically begins on Oct 1 of each year, due to the protracted formation of the government and the legislative process.

Mr Uttama referred to the Budget Bureau's estimate that 100 billion baht of the 600-billion-baht investment budget would be taken out by May.

Ramping up state agencies' and enterprises' investment budget disbursement is one of the Finance Ministry's top priorities. Others include developing the rural economy through GSB, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and the National Village and Urban Community Fund Office, upgrading SMEs and startups, and going digital by extending national e-payment services.

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