|Dublin, May 22, 2014: Enda Kenny (second from left) with 3 other ministers, making a pre-polling day pitch for Irish SME owners' votes at the local and European Parliament elections on Friday, May 23, 2014.
In recent times Irish election campaigns
effectively ended 24 hours before the day of polling and the campaign for the
local government and European Parliament elections ended on midnight Wednesday.
However, the Government parties broke the informal moratorium on the broadcast
airwaves on the eve of polling, by holding a press conference on Thursday with
the taoiseach and three ministers seeking to make broadcast news today and news on the
newspapers on Friday -- polling day -- by announcing that €500m in
additional credit will be made available to Irish SMEs (small and medium size
businesses) through the establishment of the Strategic Banking Corporation of
The governing parties as planned, used the
announcement to take advantage over Opposition parties and independents.
The Government's spin machine, using staff on the
public payroll, could have scheduled this announcement weeks ago but there has
been a game plan in recent weeks to use State resources to tie ministerial
announcements with the governing parties' election campaigns.
We warned this week that this
is the start of a two-year campaign of using public money for political
advantage in the period leading up to the next general election that has to be
held by spring 2016.
Irish Government parties set for 2-year vote buying
The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland
(SBCI) is a new company and it is intended that it will be initially financed by
the German Promotional Bank KfW, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the
directed portfolio of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
Today’s announcement marks the delivery of a key
commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2014, and comes as the
Government published the ninth Action Plan for Jobs Quarterly Progress
Report, showing that 97 out of the 103 measures earmarked for delivery in Q1
2014 have been implemented. - See more at:
enterprise minister, said today: "Today’s
announcement marks the delivery of a key commitment in the Government’s Action
Plan for Jobs 2014, and comes as the Government published the ninth Action Plan
for Jobs Quarterly Progress Report, showing that 97 out of the 103 measures
earmarked for delivery in Q1 2014 have been implemented."
The Department of Finance
explained the new SME credit facility:
Current Retail Banks in Ireland
Existing banks will borrow from the SBCI and lend to SMEs. The banks will assess
the risk of SMEs’ borrowing proposals and the banks will hold that risk. They
must demonstrate without a doubt, that the lower cost of sourcing funds from the
SBCI is passed onto SMEs, in order to avoid a serious breach of European Union
state aid regulations.
New Entrant into Irish SME Lending Market
The SBCI will lower barriers to entry for new entrants. Such new entrants into
the Irish SME lending market will be potentially funded by the SBCI. This will
drive competition and innovation. New entrants could be existing international
banks, insurance companies and pension funds as well as new Irish lending
An established SME that wants to borrow to facilitate upfront expenditure on new
machinery. It needs to match loan repayments on that capital investment with the
future extra revenue or productivity savings from that investment. SME 1 could
benefit from a SBCI funded loan whose key feature is an extended repayment
holiday. This improves SME 1’s financial sustainability as its cash flow risk
has been reduced.
SME 2 is a new start up that would be financially more sustainable if it could
pay back a loan to finance capital investment over a longer period than is
available to SMEs at present. Its current bank wants the capital repayment to be
paid back over three years but a loan funded through the SBCI could be paid back
over 6 years.
Fergal O'Brien, head of policy at Ibec, the principal
business lobby, said: "Today's
announcement is long overdue, but very welcome. As we emerge from the crisis,
business is now looking to invest again. The SME sector, in particular, needs a
more diversified financing offering. The KfW model addresses a very specific
market failure in the financing model for German business, and the Irish
Strategic Banking Corporation can do the same here.
"Irish SMEs are currently paying one percentage point more for finance than the
eurozone average. The new state backed bank must help address this challenge and
provide new financing opportunities for firms that may not get funding through
the existing bank network.
"A €500m fund looks like a good start, but it may need
to be increased as demand for investment finance recovers."
The Small Firms Association (SFA), a unit of
Ibec, said the
€500m earmarked for the initiative was not enough to address the problem.
SFA chairman, said: "Finance remains an acute problem for small firms
and while today's announcement is a step in the right direction, it does not go
far enough. The €500m of funds being made available is a tiny fraction of
the current €27 billion business banking market. Much more ambition is required.
Small companies, which are the backbone of the economy, continue to struggle to
access finance. Viable firms continue to go under as a result."