Let me start by saying how much l welcome the opportunity to address this forum on a topic that we at NAB are very passionate about.
The reason for our passion is simple: we believe that small-to-medium enterprises (“SMEs) are critical to our future economic prosperity. In this country and many others around the world, SMEs are the engine room of the economy. It is imperative that we listen to the voice of SMEs and ensure we are putting in place the right frameworks and structures – legal, regulatory, taxation, competition policy and financing to name a few – to encourage entrepreneurship and make it easier for SMEs to focus on what they are in business to do.
Today I want to explore the issues facing SMEs in accessing bank credit and the long-term implications of any market failure to provide capital to this important sector of our economy.
I am going to address this by answering three questions:
- How important is the SME sector to our long term economic prosperity -looking beyond the resource sector boom?
- Does the banking system work well for SMEs and what are the challenges confronting lenders in providing SMEs with credit solutions?
- Should the unique needs of SMEs be on the national agenda from a public policy perspective?