Budget of B1.98bn to drive SMEs

Budget of B1.98bn to drive SMEs

The Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday approved a budget of 1.98 billion baht to finance projects to strengthen SMEs this year.

Salinee Wangtal, director of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep), said the funding would be divided into six parts.

The first part, worth 437 million baht, will be allocated to three ministries -- 100 million to the Industry Ministry to upgrade SME products for export, 187 million to the Commerce Ministry to develop professional traders and franchises for the global market and 150 million to the Science and Technology Ministry to support SMEs wanting to upgrade their technology.

The second part, worth 1 billion baht, is earmarked for setting up an SME recovery fund, particularly for SMEs affected by the economic slowdown or those in the farm sector that cannot access financial sources.

Mrs Salinee said Osmep planned to help 17,000 SMEs, allowing them to borrow funds without interest and upgrade production and marketing.

The third part, worth 200 million baht, will finance start-ups. Osmep will work with nine Rajamangala universities of technology that now operate 35 incubator centres nationwide.

The Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce will act as mentors for this scheme, which is aimed at finding 30,000 to 40,000 new entrepreneurs.

The fourth part, worth 200 million baht, is meant to strengthen existing SMEs. Osmep will team up with universities and experts to conduct an in-depth analysis of each SME to develop their production, services and marketing.

The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand will support funding if SMEs need extra finance to improve or expand their businesses. The government hopes to strengthen 10,000 SMEs this year under this scheme.

The fifth part, worth 40.5 million baht, will be used to set up 20 SME one-stop service centres upcountry to add to the existing 11.

The final part, worth 100 million baht, will support community-based enterprises and the One Tambon One Product scheme.

Mrs Salinee said the committee yesterday also agreed to establish 12 business-based working panels to help translate research and development, design and marketing into added value for SME products.

GDP growth of SMEs is expected to reach 5% this year from an estimated 3.7% to 4.7% in 2015, she said.

The proportion of SMEs to GDP is expected to amount to 45% over the next five years from 39% last year.

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