Banks 'obliged' to lend to businesses


SEANAD REPORT:BANKS HAVE been very well recapitalised and are now obliged to lend to small businesses, the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, John Perry, has told the Seanad.

Many Senators yesterday raised difficulties faced by small businesses in obtaining access to credit with Mr Perry, who said while Government was working to make banks “fit for purpose”, the banks themselves also had a role to play.

“This will not substitute banks doing their job. Clearly I believe they have been very well recapitalised . . . It’s important that they be aware of the obligations that they’re very much obliged to do.”

Mr Perry said viable small businesses that were refused credit from banks should use banks’ internal appeals system and consider seeking the assistance of the credit-review office. He described small business as “the backbone of the economy”, with 200,000 small companies employing 650,000 people.

Earlier, Senator Feargal Quinn (Independent) raised the issue of selling State assets and told the Seanad the Government should not allow outside interests to take a majority stake in Aer Lingus. He described the airline as “an icon of Ireland” and stressed its importance to tourism.

“We’re not a tin-pot country that we can put up with somebody who says we can hand over our airline,” he said. “If we are going to sell State assets let’s at least make sure that no foreigner takes over more than 49 per cent of our national airline.”

Senator Catherine Noone (Fine Gael) said the Croke Park deal on public-service pay and reform would have to “be brought back on the table” unless it was implemented in a more urgent way. She said she had difficulties with the payment of increments at a time when the Government was making difficult decisions.