Small business summit will seek answers from Rudd Government on SME assistance

Small business leaders will ask the Federal Government whether it plans to offer specific assistance to the small business sector in a hastily-convened summit to be held in Brisbane on Friday.

Small business leaders will ask the Federal Government whether it plans to offer specific assistance to the small business sector in a hastily-convened summit to be held in Brisbane on Friday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Treasurer Wayne Swan and Small Business Minister Craig Emerson will all attend the summit, which has been organised by the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia.

Leaders from Australia’s major banks have also been invited to explain how their small business lending policies have changed during the crisis.

New COSBOA chief executive Jonathan Brake says his organisation will be asking the Government for tax relief and measures to improve access to credit.

Emerson acknowledges concerns about SME liquidity. “Finance is flowing for existing activities and existing overdrafts and lines of credit, but when it comes to expansion proposals the banks are becoming more cautious than they would have been a few months ago, in now requiring small business to stump up with extra security,” he said yesterday.

But SMEs expecting quick action are likely be disappointed.

A spokesman for Emerson says the Government will not use the summit to launch any new SME assistance measures and is keen to take the mood of the small business community before acting.

“We won’t be doing much of the talking; we’ll be doing plenty of listening,” the spokesman says.

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