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Banks pledge to step up loan help for SMEs

Top officials and bankers pledged to increase support to small-and medium-sized enterprises this year through increased bank loans.

Central bank deputy governor Su Ning said loans to SMEs, which now account for 52 percent of total bank loans, will increase.

The total size of bank loans will exceed five trillion yuan (HK$5.66 trillion) this year, Su said, echoing details from Premier Wen Jiabao’s work report yesterday to parliament.

”Small firms have a limited capital base, and if their capital is limited by borrowing lots of money, the risk will be big and banks will be reluctant to do so,” China’s central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan said.

”I have 6,000 people working for me, and we’ve really been hit by the financial crisis. But I don’t want to have to fire them,” said Chunlei Industrial Group CEO Liu Yufen, a delegate to China’s top political advisory body.

”We’ve seen 20 million migrant workers lose their jobs and more than seven million graduates are now seeking jobs,” Shenzhen Stock Exchange chairman Chen Dongzheng said.

China Construction Bank will keep lending growth to SMEs at least at last year’s pace, when loans rose about 20 percent, said Xie Duyang, chairman of the bank’s board of supervisors.

Bank of China president Li Lihui said its loans to SMEs will increase robustly, but said the percentage of SME loans in overall lending will probably fall because loans to other big projects may jump even more.