SMEs get B727m in state support [Bangkok Post, Thailand :: ]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 30--The Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Committee approved 727 million baht yesterday to support and develop Thai SMEs next year.
The funding plan covers 13 projects aimed at increasing SMEs' contribution to GDP to 38% or 4.2 trillion baht next year from 37% or 4 trillion last year.
It is also aimed at adding 50,000 new SMEs next year.
Wimonkan Kosumas, acting director-general of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion, said a one-stop service centre for SMEs would be established and SMEs allowed to participate in more of the state's goods and services procurement programmes.
The committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), wants to upgrade existing small businesses to medium-sized or large. Medium-sized businesses represent only 0.48% or 13,000 of Thailand's 2.7 million SMEs.
Ms Wimonkan said the government would also promote business matching among Thai SMEs, product development and networking with state agencies, large businesses and foreign markets.
Educational institutions will be encouraged to provide SMEs with more research and know-how, she said.
Ms Wimonkan said the committee prioritised the following SME sectors for government support: construction, electronic parts, auto parts, foods and beverages, educational services, energy, tourism, logistics, health care, cosmetics and creative work.
Other categories requiring state support are plastics, machinery, rubber products, textiles, jewellery, wholesale and retail, which have been hit hard by the economic slowdown, she said. These industries can create many jobs.
In June, the state-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) offered a combined 10 billion baht in loans and venture capital in a bid to raise the financial liquidity of 12,000 SMEs.
SMEs and business incubators with growth potential but lacking funding are the scheme's main targets.
The Bank of Thailand reported most Thai SMEs still lacked knowledge about product development, marketing and financial management skills, while financing remained inaccessible to them.
SMEs were the most vulnerable during the recent political impasse, as they typically have less working capital than companies, and banks are reluctant lenders for fear of default, Ms Wimonkan said.
Sharpening SMEs' competitiveness is a priority for the NCPO, as it set up the committee. The GSB has outstanding SME loans worth 70 billion baht and stands ready to extend more to comply with junta policy.
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