Industry Ministry preps SME soft loans

Industry Ministry preps SME soft loans

The Industry Ministry is preparing to launch a new soft loan programme this week to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) better cope with the latest wave of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The value of the assistance package, to be made through the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME D Bank), is being determined and the aid will be based on the degree of damage the pandemic is inflicting on businesses.

Up to 40 billion baht in soft loans were allocated through SME D Bank for SMEs last year when the nationwide lockdown measures seriously crippled the economy.

"The ministry is monitoring the ongoing pandemic and will prepare more economic measures to help SMEs," said Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

Officials have divided businesses into three groups to prioritise help.

Those in the petroleum and jet oil industry have been seriously affected, with 2021 growth expected to decrease by 10-15% from 2020, following the slowdown in the aviation and travel sectors.

Businesses such as steel, automotive, auto parts, canned food and fashion will face less of an impact, with an estimated growth of 0.5-1%, he said.

Others are in a group with a good business outlook this year. Included in this group are home appliances, electronic products as well as medical gloves and medicine businesses, which are expected to grow by 5-10%.

The government previously expected 40 billion baht in loans would help 24,000 businesses, create 120,000 jobs and contribute 90 billion baht in economic value.

Suchada Thaensap, spokeswoman for the Industry Ministry, said it is talking with other state agencies about preparations for other SME relief measures.

"Many SMEs cannot afford to run their businesses. The government is worried the second wave will destroy them," she said.

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