Banks urged to maintain funding to small companies

Australia’s banks have given important undertakings on the availability and cost of small business finance, says Federal Small Business Minister Dr Craig Emerson.

Australia’s banks have given important undertakings on the availability and cost of small business finance, says Federal Small Business Minister Dr Craig Emerson.

Last week, Dr Emerson facilitated a roundtable discussion between bank representatives and small business organisations in Melbourne to discuss credit flow to small business against the backdrop of the global financial crisis.

The banks have indicated that they will seek to maintain funding to the small business sector. And they undertook to pass on to small business, to the maximum extent possible, any reduction in the cost of funds, while maintaining prudential standards.

Dr Emerson said the commitment on the availability of funds will help assure the small business community that credit will continue to flow and the undertaking on passing on any reductions to cost of funds will help keep small businesses viable.

Banks need to maintain prudential standards to keep them strong during the global financial crisis. As a result of the roundtable, the Government has set up a small business complaints clearing house with the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA).

Dr Emerson’s office will receive complaints about access to and cost of bank finance which will be passed on through the ABA to senior bank management for response.

The Rudd Government also announced the 55 successful applicants for its $4 million small business advisory program during the global financial crisis.

This takes to 91 the number of small business organisations being funded by the Rudd Government to assist small businesses in obtaining finance.

The Government has also reached agreement with the Victorian Government to have its Business Loan Finder available through the Commonwealth’s business website (www.business.gov.au).

The Business Loan Finder is an online information service that helps small business operators easily compare different loan products and find one that best suits their needs.

The Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) has indicated small business organisations will continue to work with the ABA to identify and deal with ongoing difficulties small business might face accessing credit during the global financial crisis.

Representatives from the ABA, ANZ Bank, Bank of Queensland, Bendigo Bank, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Bank and Suncorp attended today’s roundtable as did the COSBOA and other business organisations.Details of the small business advisory program and the list of successful applicants are available on the AusIndustry website.

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