Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Focus on projects viability, not collateral for MSME loans, Samuda tells banks

Published:Friday | September 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Karl Samuda

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda is urging commercial banks to reconsider how they determine whether to grant loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

"For Jamaica to really go forward, the philosophy of banking has to be altered whereby the focus is more on the viability of the project rather than on the level of collateral that is offered," he said.

According to Samuda, one of the greatest challenges facing MSMEs is the inability to provide the level of collateral required to access loans.

"If you don't have it, your negotiating skills are diminished. With big collateral you can bargain, you can get the best rates. But it shouldn't be on the basis of the strength of your collateral. It should be on the basis of whether the project is viable. Is it likely to succeed?" said Samuda.

He also urged banks to bring down the interest rates charged to MSMEs.

"The sector cannot hope to thrive at the pace necessary to get this economy rolling unless we get to low single digit interest charges," the minister said.

He was speaking Wednesday at the closing ceremony for Scotiabank's Vision Achiever programme at the bank's Corporate Learning Centre in St Andrew.

He commended Scotiabank on the initiative, which saw 25 small business owners receiving business coaching over a 17-week period.