Yangon SMEs to receive smart cards facilitating loans

Smart cards to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) apply for bank loans will be issued after the relevant data is collected, Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said at a meeting with local businesses at the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) office on August 28.

THE program will cover 45 townships in Yangon Region including Cocokyun. “So far, we have collected the relevant data for SMEs in Yangon Region. After we have made the necessary ground checks, SME smart cards will be issued to those businesses. Every SME will have a smart card with its loan data uploaded,” the Chief Minister said.

The lack of loan data is one of the factors delaying the processing of loans and the rate at which money is extended to SMEs.

“When applying for loans, it takes a lot of time to check data like previous loans taken, payment records and profitability. Myanmar also lacks a functional Credit Bureau which can provide such data,” CEO and Vice-Chair of Cooperative Bank U Kyaw Lin told the Myanmar Times.

“We must collect the data systematically to help SMEs gain easier access to loan assistance. We will collect data in each township by teams. We can also help SMEs in different sectors in obtaining loans,” he added. Arrangements have been made for Yangon City Bank to extend the loans to qualified SMEs.

According to existing departmental statistics, there are officially over 40,000 industrial businesses and over 20,000 SMEs in Myanmar.

At the same meeting, Union Minister for Planning and Finance U Kyaw Win said his ministry would be assisting businesses in the agriculture and construction sectors as well as SMEs by providing them with capital funds to develop their operations. “The Union government will directly lend a hand by providing loans. Billions can be extended,” said U Kyaw Win.

Notably, the loans will also be extended to businesses along the supply chain. In the agriculture sector currently, only farmers are eligible for loans by the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank (MADB). But the new plan will allow businesses to take loans for crop cultivation, the purchase of machinery, processing and diversifying into new export markets.

In the construction sector, businesses will be given access to working capital during periods of cash flow difficulties, he said. The loans will be provided by the MADB and Construction and Housing Development Bank (CHDB) through the Myanma Economic Bank (MEB).

Meanwhile, financial assistance will also be given to SMEs involved in ethnic cultural and traditional works, household works and regional product services. However, priorities will be given to those involved in the business of replacing imported products with domestically produced alternatives, U Kyaw Win said.

The moves signify efforts to assist local businesses on the government’s part. In Myanmar, SMEs do not have easy access to bank financing and rely heavily on loans from international institutions such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the International Finance Corporation. Even here, the monies can only be disseminated through a local bank.

This is because interest rates on local bank loans can be as high as 13 percent, and lowering those rates involves reviewing the central bank’s monetary policy, which states that deposit rates cannot be lower than the rate of inflation. Hence, Myanmar’s banks have typically lacked the initiative to expand their loan books.

Source : Myanmar Times