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Financial Support for SMEs Pledged

The country's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be guaranteed financial support despite the government's tightened monetary policy this year, China's banking regulator pledged on Friday.

"Local lenders should stick to the tight monetary policy and control their overall loan volume.

"But the credit control should not hurt the loan demand of SMEs," Wang Zhaoxing, vice chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), told a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

The CBRC said that banks' loan growth to small companies this year should be no less than the average increase for all loans.

The country's banks must meet their responsibility of satisfying the financial needs of small companies in order to increase employment and achieve sound and quick economic development, the CBRC stated on its website on Friday.

Realizing that the tight monetary policy is likely to intensify SMEs' difficulties in getting loans from banks, Wang also called for the five State-owned commercial banks to adjust their loan structure by serving more SMEs.

The country's "Big Five" banks are the China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications.

"The Big Five have a network across the country and enjoy advantages in capital, so their support for SMEs is expected to play an important role," Wang said.

"Recent moves show our efforts on improving big banks' financial services for SMEs," he said.

The CBRC has set up a working team on SME financial services under a supervision department that oversees the five State-owned banks, Wang said.

The working team was originally under the statistics department.

The CBRC has reportedly been giving priority to SME financing since 2005.

Under its guidelines and banks' own efforts, some achievements have been made, Yang Jiacai, director of one of the CBRC's supervision departments, said.

These include:

Departments set up by every major commercial bank to specially serve small- and medium-sized enterprises. Some have even established special sub-branches.

Different loan management systems for SMEs, as risks are higher than those involved with lending to big corporations.

A series of credit products targeting SMEs developed by many banks.

(China Daily March 15, 2008)

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