CANBERRA, AAP – Major banks have thrown their support behind the Morrison government’s cheap loan scheme aimed at small and medium sized businesses that are still struggling to recover from last year’s recession.
The scheme, part of a $1.2 billion package to take over from the JobKeeper wage subsidy that ends later this month, offers 10-year loans with 24-month repayment holidays.
“While many of our customers are back on track, some sectors and geographies remain under pressure,” Westpac chief executive Peter King said.
“For those customers, the new scheme will provide targeted support and also helps provide a funding bridge to give businesses more time to recover.”
The package also offers support to the struggling aviation sector by funding half-price air tickets for domestic flights between April and July.
National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan said the package was a thoughtful extension to the JobKeeper scheme.
“We are pleased to see specific support for the aviation and tourism industries, given the particularly heavy load these businesses and their many employees have borne over the past year,” Mr McEwan said.
“The longer dated terms doubling to a maximum 10 years will be really helpful to businesses that were healthy pre-COVID but struggling in the current conditions.”
But Council of Small Business Organisations Australia CEO Peter Strong said the banks won’t be giving out loans to pay wages.
“They will give you a loan if you have got a good business plan and you have got a good track record,” Mr Strong told ABC television.
“That will keep people in jobs.”
He hopes the government will provide additional support for other industries which have felt the impact of the pandemic, like events, the music industry, hospitality and accommodation.
He also believes there should also be an emphasis on training, with many of his members having vacancies they can’t fill.