The Central Bank report on Irish credit conditions drew widespread support from business organisations.
Isme chief executive Mark Fielding said: “This present administration must stop their current love affair with the banks, demand changes in bank operations, and insist that they partake in a positive way in the recovery.
“It may suit the administration to believe the fiction created by bankers’ spin that the system is functioning: Otherwise why sink billions of taxpayers’ money into keeping them afloat?
“The reality is that banks are performing at a very limited capacity in ensuring the payments system and ATMs are functioning.
“However, when it comes to assisting the SME sector to grow, the bailed-out banks are continuing to refuse SMEs access to finance, thereby hindering the economy.”
The deputy chief executive of Chambers Ireland, Sean Murphy, said the high number of Irish businesses not applying for loans because of fear of rejection was a worrying trend.
“[The] figures, while worrying, highlight how important it is for businesses to make sure they are using the formal loan process and, in cases where they are rejected or are offered onerous terms and conditions, appeal these decisions to the Credit Review Office.
“Now is the time for the Government to agree its line on lending conditions, and ensure that all banks follow suit.
“The Government needs to set the standard for lending through the terms of its enterprise loan guarantee scheme, which must be implemented without further delay.”
The Irish Exporters’ Association also supported the findings of the Central Bank report. The association’s chief executive, John Whelan, said: “The simple fact of the matter is that many exporting firms are still unable to get adequate finance to sustain their existing business and to grow their export markets.’’
A statement from the Irish Hotels Federation said its members continued to face “unjustifiable difficulties” in accessing credit. Chief executive of the IHF, Tim Fenn, said: “The Government must do more to ensure banks facilitate the economy by supplying much needed credit to viable businesses.”
Chief operations officer at the Professional Insurance Brokers’ Association, Rachel Doyle, said the Central Bank report lifted “the cloak of pretence that the banks are willing to lend to anyone other than a chosen few. The findings in the report are indisputable. The tragedy is that it has been going on for far too long.”
However, AIB issued a statement saying that it had exceeded its SME lending target.
“We recognise that Irish SMEs are operating in an extremely challenging business environment versus many other European peers as the Irish economy and the banking sector recovers and we remain committed to helping our business customers through this difficult phase,” it said.
Bank of Ireland director of business banking Mark Cunningham said it was a concern that SMEs were not applying for loans because of fear of rejection.
“Bank of Ireland continues to lend to viable Irish businesses and farmers and is keen to see more applications coming from this group,” he said.
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