Access to bank credit for businesses, particularly SMEs, has been central to many Government initiatives in addressing the crisis in the banking sector. Both the 2009 and 2010 bank recapitalisation arrangements provided specific commitments from the recapitalised banks to assist SMEs.
Under the 2010 bank recapitalisation arrangement, AIB and Bank of Ireland have both committed to making available not less than €3 billion each for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs in both 2010 and 2011, including funds for working capital for businesses. As a Department, we have ongoing contact with the main banks in relation to their lending to businesses and will, together with our colleagues in the Department of Finance and John Trethowan of the Credit Review Office, continue to ensure that they meet their lending commitments.
In this regard, as part of his second quarterly report on SME lending published on 18 November 2010, John Trethowan indicated that each of the banks has shown a positive attitude to his review process and the banks' executives have been asked to ensure that this attitude is shared with their front-line lending staff. He also stated that the current market perceptions that banks are not lending to SMEs is based on experiences from six to nine months ago, and the current situation while still not entirely perfect, is now continually improving. In addition, our officials are working with their colleagues in the Department of Finance, the Credit Review Office, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás to address access to credit issues for viable SMEs.
The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 contains a pillar to pursue appropriate sectoral policies to encourage export growth and recovery of domestic demand. The plan sets out a range of specific actions and supports designed to foster export growth and a recovery of domestic demand; provide investment of €2.2 billion in capital over the four years of the plan for the enterprise agencies, which will enable them to create jobs across the economy; support indigenous firms to increase exports; win new foreign investment; and target and supporting research, development and innovation in companies to boost productivity, exports, growth and jobs. To further assist cash flow for SMEs, the 15 day payment rule to suppliers will be extended beyond central Government Departments to the wider public sector.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
The State development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, and the county and city enterprise boards are continuing to drive and promote enterprise development, and consequently employment creation in our economy.
In September 2010, the Taoiseach launched the five-year integrated Government plan for trade, tourism and investment. This plan has set a number of ambitious targets to be achieved by 2015, including the generation of 300,000 jobs between direct and spin-off employment. The overall objective of the strategy and its action plan is to marshal and co-ordinate the resources of the State in a way that best supports firms, of all sizes, in all parts of the country, which are trying to trade and grow their business overseas. The strategy presents a suite of actions for building on existing strengths and driving trade relations in existing as well as new and emerging economies.