Ministers Brian Lenihan and Batt O’Keeffe are to meet executives of Allied Irish Bank this morning (Monday) to insist they lend more money to small businesses. The Sunday Independent claimed that the Ministers are to challenge the bank’s representatives “head on” about their policy toward liquidity-starved companies.
Lenihan and O’Keeffe are currently involved in a nationwide series of meetings on credit with members of the Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME), the Small Firms Association, Chambers Irish, the Irish Hotels Federation and the Irish Farmers Association. O’Keeffe was quoted as saying that the “overwhelming feeling from these regional meetings is that many small businesses continue to be stonewalled by our banks.
“Two things are clear, the Government must sustain relentless pressure on banks to lend to viable small businesses and we must boost public awareness of the new appeals mechanism available to borrowers,” O’Keeffe said.
AIB chairman Dan O’Connor and managing director Colm Doherty are due to attend today’s meeting in the Department of Finance In Dublin’s Merrion Square. AIB is being singled out because it is not sufficiently flexible in meeting the needs of its customers and the economy.
The Sunday Independent article quoted Mark Fielding, the chief executive of ISME, as saying that despite their protestations, the banks are simply not lending money. “The Government seems beholden to the banks. Small business is being held to ransom by big businesses, which are hoarding money rather than paying their bills.”