President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Chandradat Chintamani has told Stabroek Business that the Chamber would give serious consideration to the creation of a Credit Bureau to support the financing of small business development if government grants it the necessary permission.
Chintamani said that he had already raised the matter with the authorities and that he had been advised that government was in the process of setting up such a facility.
Discussions in government and business circles on the establishment of a Credit Bureau to provide greater access to business financing for small enterprises that are unable to meet commercial bank lending criteria has been ‘in vogue’ for several years and Chintamani told Stabroek Business that the Chamber would “more than welcome” such a development. “If the Credit Bureau is on the cards I think that the Chamber can provide useful support that could help in the efficient running of the Bureau,” he added.
Asked whether the Chamber was concerned about the difficulties being faced by small entrepreneurs in accessing bank credit Chintamani said that he believed that the prevailing posture of commercial banks may be partly influenced by the fact that they have been carrying a great many “bad loans,” based on decisions that were taken in the past. “If indeed it is the case that current lending policies are influenced by past experiences that concept needs to change. I am not suggesting a reckless lending policy. What I am suggesting is that the commercial banks deal with borrowers on a case by case basis and not place borrowers collectively. Those bad loans have come about for a number of reasons and it could well be that one of those reasons has to do with bad decisions on the part of the banks,” he added.
And according to the GCCI President both the banks and the business sector are likely to benefit from a shift in lending policy. “I believe that banks, potentially, can be more flexible in dealing with financing for small businesses. There is no advantage to be derived for the banks for sitting on sixty or seventy per cent liquidity. The business of banks is to make money by lending money,” he added.
Chintamani told Stabroek Business that one way in which the Chamber would be seeking to improve access to commercial bank lending was by providing specialist
assistance with the preparation of business plans that had a higher likelihood of finding favour with the commercial banking sector. “We believe that there is room in the business community for a service that provides support in the creation of business plans that are viable, that has obvious business potential and that can attract financing.”
Meanwhile, according to the GCCI President, plans to reposition the Chamber to provide “practical services to the business sector” also includes practical initiatives that are directly linked to the growth and development of individual businesses. “Small businesses are evidently not able to afford to recruit specialists to support them in the various areas of business development. What the Chamber is seeking to do is to recruit such a service in-house which we can offer to small businesses at an affordable fee.”
According to Chintamani the Chamber is in the process of developing a capacity to offer a range of relevant services” to the small business sector including information on how to establish a business, recruiting specialist employees, choice of computer systems to suit particular business needs. “What we are seeking to do is to help small businesses invest correctly and wisely,” Chintamani said.