Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Government is looking at ways access to finance can be improved for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).
Robertson says this is separate to the Inland Revenue administered Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme established in 2020 to help SMEs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"[Small Business Minister] Stuart Nash and I have been looking at the broader issue of access to finance for small and medium enterprises. We do believe there is a gap in that area, and we've been undertaking work with a number of interested stakeholders around what that might look like to ensure that small and medium enterprises can get the access to the credit that they need," Robertson says.
Asked where money for this might come from, Robertson says: "We'll get back to you on that in the near future. We've been working our way through that with a range of stakeholders. We'll have more to say about that soon."
In the short-term he says the Government is looking at whether there's going to be a desire from SMEs for more access to credit.
"So one of the things we are looking at is whether the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme could be developed further. That's more as a Covid-style response," Robertson says.
He says there was less enthusiasm from small businesses to borrow during the Delta outbreak than there had been in 2020.
"And there's some suggestion emerging out of the small business community that as people start to trade again through the traffic light framework, as they start to see revenues come back, that they may be more interested then in taking on some more debt. That's where the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme would come in. What I'm talking about is a much more long-term scheme about how we support small businesses to get access to finance," Robertson says.
Asked whether banks cannot support SMEs, he says there are two ways of looking at that.
"Yes, I think there is opportunity for our retail banks to be able to work closely with small and medium enterprises. I think there is growth opportunity in a number of sectors where SMEs are dominant, and I would encourage and support retail banks to do that. However, I could wait for that for a very long time, or we could have a chat about working with them and working with other stakeholders to provide some other ways of accessing finance. And that's what we're doing," Robertson says.
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