Interviewed With The Business Times: Relief Measures Offer Respite but Banks Can Do More
3E Accounting founder Lawrence Chai was among SME chiefs interviewed by The Business Times on the heels of SME support measures announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Financial Industry on 31 March 2020.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), together with the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), the Life Insurance Association (LIA), the General Insurance Association (GIA), and the Finance Houses Association of Singapore (FHAS) unveiled a package of measures to help ease the financial strain on individuals and SMEs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The package of financial measures complements the initiatives in the Singapore Government’s Unity Budget and Resilience Budget to preserve jobs and support enterprises and households.
Setting a Guideline of Granting SME Loans
Lawrence told The Business Times that the measures were a timely boost for many SMEs like 3E Accounting, and urged banks to exercise greater flexibility during COVID-19 crisis and give a helping hand to smaller firms. Sharing the plight faced by clients he spoke to, Lawrence said, “We have tried to help really small businesses apply for the Working Capital Loan, but many did not qualify because their revenues or profits did not meet the banks’ thresholds.”
Lawrence proposed that banks could consider setting a guideline of granting SME loans pegged to a specific percentage of their operating revenue.
The Business Times noted that smaller SMEs may be overwhelmed by the multitude of support measures offered by different government agencies and financial institutions, and banks can, and should provide guidance to help smaller SMEs navigate the schemes available.
In compliance with Ministry of Manpower safe distancing guidelines, the interview with The Business Times was conducted over video-conferencing with more than 90% of the 30-odd strong 3E Accounting team telecommuting to ensure business continuity and combat COVID-19.