Central Bank examines easing restrictions on small enterprises

The Central Bank of Egypt is examining giving new facilities to small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in cooperation with international entities.

These facilities include a better legislative environment and easier procedures for taking out loans from banks.

At the forum for SMEs organized by the Union of Arab Banks, Farouq al-Oqda, the governor of the Central Bank, acknowledged the existence of obstacles including an unfavorable legislative environment and difficulty in obtaining bank loans — hampering the development of small- and medium-scale projects.

In his speech, delivered on his behalf by his deputy Lobna Helal, Oqda said SMEs create job opportunities and reduce the unemployment rate, which stood at 12 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, Tarek Amer, president of the National Bank of Egypt and head of the Federation of Egyptian Banks, criticized the government’s policy toward SMEs, saying Malaysia and Mexico both have ministries to handle SMEs’ affairs.

Amer said the Egyptian government was not employing market mechanisms before the 25 January revolution, adding that the government should change the way it views the private sector.

He added that SMEs depend on themselves to get 85 percent of the financing they need.

Wesam Fattouh, secretary general of the Union of Arab Banks, said the current political unrest in Egypt has increased inflation, reduced the GDP and raised the level of uncertainty regarding the future, which has impacted investment. 

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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