Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 12 News List

SME division to be promoted to a bureau: premier

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday promised that the Cabinet would upgrade the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Administration under the Ministry of Economic Affairs into a bureau to better serve the nation’s 1.23 million SMEs.

The proposed upgrading will give the SME organization the same status as the ministry’s Bureau of Foreign Trade or the Industrial Development Bureau, Wu told the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (中小企業協會).

This will be made possible when the Cabinet activates its reorganization plan as early as 2012, the premier told the business gathering.

“The nation’s 1.23 million SMEs have contributed greatly to the nation’s economic development and job creation,” Wu said.

Wu also instructed the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to extend a scheme that would facilitate loan rollovers through negotiations between bank creditors and SME borrowers by another six months.

Although FSC Vice Chairwoman Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠) had earlier argued that extending the scheme would interfere with the banking sector’s credit policy, Wu insisted that the scheme be prolonged until the end of the year, saying SMEs would need more time to weather the recent economic slump.

Lee changed her tuned yesterday, however, saying that as FSC statistics showed that only 160,000 of the nation’s 1.23 million SMEs had secured loans from banks, banks should increase the size of their loans to SMEs, many of which have difficulty raising funds from the stock market.

She also urged SMEs to improve their financial transparency, saying this would encourage banks to loosen their credit lines.

The premier yesterday also instructed the ministry to hold briefings or discussions with the private sector before it finalizes budget plans of approximately NT$28 billion (US$880 million) for SMEs.

Meanwhile, Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Tsai Hsun-hsiung (蔡勳雄) yesterday told the association that his council would use part of the National Stabilization Fund to serve as guarantees for loans granted to SMEs or as a remedial budget for businesses that may be affected by the trade liberalization policies, including a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement with China.

Addressing the association’s concerns over rising labor cost, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said the council had allocated a budget of NT$600 million this year to subsidize on-the-job training and welcomed SMEs to submit applications.

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