Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs and Enterprise Dara Calleary has said today’s reheated announcement of €400m in SME lending from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SCBI) will not inspire confidence in the business community, many of whom are still being starved of credit by the main banks.

Deputy Calleary commented: “It’s no coincidence that Fine Gael are re-launching some of their more popular PR announcements from recent months ahead of their party conference this weekend but the reality is the Strategic Banking Corporation is not the vehicle businesses in Ireland need to get more access to credit.  This is not the enterprise bank the sector needs or the one we called for a number of years ago.  The government is still using the two pillar banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, to lend money out to businesses under this plan.  These banks have had a significant role in denying businesses credit for years.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, representing 70% of all employment in the private sector.  Their recovery is still being strangled by lack of access to credit.  SMEs report bank fees and charges are rising and the trend is likely to continue.  Some banks are increasing their business banking charges by 300% – a move which has been sanctioned by the Central Bank.  Business customers will see the charges on their accounts soar by up to 300% in some cases, with certain customers expected to pay €250 a year for services.  This is totally unacceptable but the government is standing by and allowing it to happen.

“There is a complete lack of competition in the business banking sector.  Banks are consistently increasing charges, and pushing up the financial burden on businesses, which are already struggling to remain viable.  The fact remains that the banking sector at the moment is not supporting recovery in the economy.  As long as it remains unfit for purpose we will continue to see hampered growth.”