TEMPME was represented at the meeting by president Dmitris Alepis, vice-president Nikos Domenikos, general manager Alexandros Paparseno, and board members Christos Gortsos (as general secretary of the Hellenic Bank Association), Evangelos Lemos, Sotirios Magopoulos (representing the Central Association of Chambers of Greece), Spiros Katsantonis (representing the Ministry of Finance) and Iosif Rousanidis (representing the General Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Tradesmen). Mr Sioufas noted the following:
- The new government is assisting businesses in every way possible, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, because they are the backbone of the Greek economy and make a significant contribution to increasing growth and employment.
- The new government is adding to and not taking away from what previous governments have done. The Ministry of Development, in constant consultation with the banking system, is thus advancing measures for the more active operation of TEMPME and, through it, real and effective financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
- The system by which small and medium-sized enterprises receive financing from TEMPME must be released from the fetters of bureaucracy and every form of disincentive.
“Support for small and medium-sized enterprises is also a top priority for the political leadership of the Ministry of Development, but we do not want to bend the rules,” stressed Mr Sioufas. “We must never accept a phone call from Mr So-and-So demanding approval of an application whatever its deficiencies. You will never accept such a telephone call. We do not want TEMPME to be a tool to serve vested interests. You will carry out your work according to objective criteria, but at the same time, TEMPME must take off. And here we must all be careful. And we can be. We have created a good climate with the Hellenic Bank Association. Two banks are expected to make an announcement regarding their cooperation. That is decisive for the climate that is being created. But what I want is more loans. At least one loan from every branch.”
Μετά το πέρας της συνάντησης, κατά την οποία όλοι οι συμμετέχοντες παρουσίασαν στον υπουργό Ανάπτυξης τα προβλήματα και τα αντικίνητρα στη χρηματοδότηση των μικρομεσαίων επιχειρήσεων από τις τράπεζες κι έκαναν αντίστοιχες προτάσεις για την αντιμετώπισή τους, ο κ. Σιούφας έκανε στους δημοσιογράφους την ακόλουθη δήλωση:
“We met today with the board of the Credit Guarantee Fund of Small and Very Small Enterprises, and examined all the issues concerning the Fund’s new start and its support for small and very small enterprises with the credit guarantee programme. The Fund is today absolutely ready to carry out its mission. The first applications have already been approved. Following ongoing consultation, the banking system has accepted essential cooperation with the Credit Guarantee Fund, and Chambers and organisations of small and medium-sized enterprises have been briefed so that they can make its programmes better known. It is a good start, and I believe that with the systematic cooperation of all, the Credit Guarantee Fund can and will become an essential tool for the support of these enterprises, especially those which display drive and have prospects for growth, but which have problems, especially in opening new enterprises. The government supports the Fund and its programmes. The Prime Minister, Mr Karamanlis, has already announced this at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair. And the reason we are here today is to establish how ready the Fund is to carry out this mission. What we have discovered is highly satisfactory. The relevant orders have been given. We will be here often, because we believe that credit guarantees are an important institution and we believe that they can decisively support the further development of small and medium-sized enterprises.”
REPORTER: Minister, how many loans are there and how much will be lent? And have the bureaucratic obstacles been overcome?
MINISTER: Most of the bureaucratic obstacles have been overcome. For some issues that still remain, instructions have been given so that they can be dealt with. The first credit guarantee approvals have been given to the banks. But essentially, because this whole process took place during the summer with the Olympic Games, I believe that from October, with the targets that the banking system has set, the system will become something very important. I also want answer your question by saying that two other big banks will announce over the next few days that they are joining the system. Already, about 15 cooperative banks have asked to enter the credit guarantee programme, and the Fund’s management is examining these requests so that it can also work with these banks. Things are going well.”
REPORTER: How many banks?
MINISTER: All the banks, with the exception of two, which in the next few days will announce their support for the Fund.
REPORTER: How many businesses do you estimate will be included in the credit guarantee system?
MINISTER: The programme can underwrite credit guarantees up to 1.2 billion euros. It is estimated that by the end of 2008 more than 11,000 businesses will have been included. We support the establishment of new dynamic businesses, the establishment of new businesses that do not have full tangible guarantees. One of the decisive features of this Fund is that it does not allow people’s homes to be used as collateral with the banks. That is a very important feature that will allow new creative forces in the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises to make great strides.
The president of TEMPME, Dimitris Alepis, also answered questions from reporters:
“Businesspeople should apply to join the TEMPME programme at their bank. The procedure is very simple. And not at all bureaucratic. In a few days, a reply will be given at the bank where the application was made.”