I am required by Section 22 of the Microenterprise Loan Fund Act 2012 to commence a review of the operation of this Act not later than 2 years after the date of its passing (July 2014). Notwithstanding this, the Microenterprise Loan Fund Scheme has been kept under constant review by the Executive and Board of Microfinance Ireland, and by my Department, and it improved throughout its first year of operation. Improvements include: applicants can now self-certify informal/verbal bank declines and Microfinance Ireland now accepts applications directly. While recognising that the Scheme is demand-led, Microfinance Ireland is committed to reaching the long term objective for the Scheme which should see, the €10 million Exchequer allocation, supplemented by €15 million bank borrowing in tranches of €5 million over the following years generating €40 million (€8m per annum) in loan expenditure and creating 3,800 jobs over a 5 year period.
I made a commitment to review the Credit Guarantee Scheme after 12 months of operation. However, as take-up continued to be slow, the Scheme was recently independently reviewed to help improve the overall Scheme for all businesses. The independent review has given us a view on what the likely annual take up of the Scheme can be and some changes we can make to the Scheme, to increase participation. My Department has been consulting with the Irish Banking Federation to ascertain the likely level of take-up of any revised scheme. I am awaiting a final assessment from the Review Steering Group, chaired by my Department, and plan to bring my findings and conclusions to Government and the Oireachtas, as soon as possible thereafter. It is likely that the Credit Guarantee Act 2012 and the Credit Guarantee Scheme 2012 will require amendment. This complex work is progressing as quickly as it is practicable.