State pledges fresh steps to assist SMEs

State pledges fresh steps to assist SMEs

Joint meeting set to address difficulties

The government has pledged to introduce new measures to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha scheduled a joint meeting on June 23 with members of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Bankers' Association and the Federation of Thai SMEs Association to find more effective measures to help SMEs affected by the outbreak.

"Gen Prayut is concerned about the plight of SMEs crippled by the pandemic," he said. "Many SMEs have yet to access the government's existing aid measures such as the Bank of Thailand's amended soft loan scheme worth 250 billion baht, while other SMEs want the government to support other measures in addition to financial assistance."

At the meeting, Gen Prayut is likely to ask for more cooperation from large businesses to assist SMEs, such as buying more of their products and including SMEs in their supply chain, said Mr Danucha.

Large companies may be asked to become guarantors for SMEs when they apply for loans, he said. This initiative is a collaboration between a few leading retail business groups and commercial banks to strengthen SMEs' liquidity and offer them a sales channel, said Mr Danucha.

Under the scheme, the retailers use technology to help screen and provide information on their tenant SMEs to demonstrate they are trustworthy. This helps to expedite the banks' loan consideration process, while increasing the opportunity for SMEs to access loans.

A Government House source who requested anonymity said the Federation of Thai SMEs Association, which met Gen Prayut last Wednesday, said the third wave has placed more than 300,000 SMEs in a position of financial hardship.

SMEs are a fragile segment that have been ravaged by the pandemic. Their rising credit risk makes it more difficult for them to obtain loans. SMEs account for 32-35% of GDP.

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