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October 22nd, 2013
HKTV Denied Free-TV License

Hong Kong government’s SME Loan Guarantee Scheme

Although the government has the best of intentions; it’s SME Loan Guarantee seems to have more discernible benefits to its participating banks than SMEs.

The government loan guarantees guarantee 80% of the loan; however all banks still require the owners of SME’s to personally guarantee 100% the loans and the government guarantee only applies when the owner is unable to repay the loan and is forced into bankruptcy. The interest charged on the SME loans by the banks are the same as what they were charging without the SME Loan guarantee. So in effect the SME owner; with or without the government loan guarantee is receiving exactly the same deal with the banks except they have to fill in more forms.

The banks on the other hand benefit in everyway; guaranteed return, guaranteed profitability, guaranteed no loan default and guaranteed retention of the same interest rates and bank charges.

The most obvious argument is that the government has helped give confidence to the banks to lend money to SMEs that they may not have had otherwise. However this is inherently flawed, because the banks' primary business is lending money and if they chose not to do that they will go under; therefore it is as much in the bank’s interest to lend money as it is in the SME’s interest to borrow money with or without government aid.

If the government genuinely wants to help SME’s; they should lend money directly to the SME’s without the banks' involvement This would reqiure a separate department be setup for handling these affairs and this department would actually serve a useful purpose.

So instead of the an SME Loan Guarantee Scheme it should be called a Banks' Profitability Guarantee Scheme.

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