FTI to table relief plan

FTI to table relief plan

Four-point scheme to help SMEs survive

A desolate scene at Bangkok's Pratunam market amid the latest wave of the pandemic. Businesses nationwide are struggling due to the outbreak. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
A desolate scene at Bangkok's Pratunam market amid the latest wave of the pandemic. Businesses nationwide are struggling due to the outbreak. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the Thai Listed Companies Association (TLCA) will on Thursday propose four debt and health-related measures to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) survive the Covid-19 crisis.

They badly need help to deal with debt and liquidity problems and at the same time must be equipped with a better shield against disease transmission.

Without effective measures, many SMEs will go bankrupt, warned Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the FTI.

"FTI has teamed up with TLCA to provide relief measures to help SMEs weather the impact of lockdown measures amid the pandemic," he said, referring to a four-point proposal set to be tabled during the meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration tomorrow.

Besides a suggestion to have the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation increase the loan guarantee ratio to 60%, FTI and TLCA want authorities to help SMEs deal with their debt payment records.

Businesses that list non-performing loans (NPLs) during the pandemic should not be required to have their debt payments recorded by the National Credit Bureau. This aspect should also remain in place for three years after the end of the pandemic.

The next measure is to relax loan request conditions for SMEs which will find it hard to access loan grants as long as financial institutions, notably banks, continue to apply strict criteria to select borrowers.

If bankers base decisions on loan requests on the "potential" of SMEs to pay back, it will be very difficult for businesses with uncertain revenue in the future to secure loans, according to FTI.

The federation and TLCA also agreed to ask the government to give rapid antigen test kits free of charge to SMEs to help them screen workers and take those infected with Covid-19 for treatment.

The FTI earlier announced its own plan to send 50,000 rapid antigen test kits to companies that are FTI members as part of efforts to stop the virus spread in the industrial sector.

Many factories cannot afford to hire laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests.

Chanin Vongkusolkit, chairman of the TLCA, said his association has also asked large companies to speed up debt payments by settling their debts owed to SMEs within 15 days after invoices are issued under the "Faster Payment" scheme to solve SMEs' liquidity problems.

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