News Column

SME loan clients seek crisis relief

February 27, 2014

By Somruedi Banchongduang, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Feb. 27--An increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly agribusinesses, are increasingly struggling just to survive, and they want financial assistance to help extend their liquidity during this time of growing pressures from the political strife.

Patchara Samalapa, an executive vice-president of Kasikornbank (KBank), said the bank has nearly 100 SME customers with a combined credit line of 2.7 billion baht calling for support.

These customers are largely farming-related businesses whose cash flow has dried up due to the government's late payment to farmers under the rice pledging scheme, he said.

As well, delayed budget disbursement by the caretaker government has affected the construction and building materials sector, while hotels and retail businesses near rally sites are also being adversely affected.

KBank initially assists its clients by prolonging debt instalment periods by three months from the existing maturity for all affected SME clients.

Offering additional credit lines will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

"Hopefully, the current political chaos will end soon, then SMEs can resume their normal operations as soon as possible before being affected even more," said Mr Patchara.

KBank has 17,500 SME customers near the rally sites, and 500 of them with outstanding loans totalling 3.5 billion baht or 0.72% of the bank's SME loan portfolio have taken a serious hit.

The country's fourth-largest bank by assets projects 10% SME loan growth this year.

Jiratchyuth Amyongka, a senior executive vice-president of CIMB Thai Bank, echoed Mr Patchara, saying CIMBT is considering introducing relief packages for its SME customers.

The measure would cover the grace period for both principle and interest and provide additional working capital to support their liquidity.

CIMBT has revised down this year's SME loan growth target to 19% from an earlier projection of 22%, in line with the overall economic circumstances.

But if the situation returns to normal in the second half, that will return to 22%.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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