Job Protection Must Be Priority In SME Sector - FG

Protecting jobs must be the priority when dealing with the large level of debt within the SME sector, Fine Gael has said.

The party's Meath West TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee, Damien English, made the comment in response to the latest findings of a Central Bank report published on Thursday, which shows that 41% of loans owed by the sector are in arrears.

"Protecting jobs and keeping viable businesses open must be our priority when we look at the issue of dealing with the large amount of debt owed by Irish SMEs. According to the Central Bank, 41% of loans owed by small businesses here are in arrears, which could have considerable implications for the sector," Mr English said.

Adding: "The Jobs Committee is due to publish a report on this issue in the coming weeks, and I will be looking for jobs-friendly ways of tackling the problem. While we cannot allow rogue businesses to renege on their debts, the majority of small businesses should be helped to restructure their loans in a manageable fashion which will safeguard jobs.

"The Central Bank report again highlights the ongoing perception issue when it comes to businesses applying for credit. There is still a belief out there that credit is not available, and this is putting businesses off seeking loans in the first place. We must continue to dispel this belief, and encourage more businesses to seek credit if they need it. The Government has also put a number of schemes in place to provide credit to businesses which are being refused by the banks.

"Small businesses are creating the vast majority of new jobs and are therefore driving our economic recovery. I look forward to completing our work on the issue of SME debt at the Jobs Committee in the coming weeks."


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