The Federal Government will be extending and expanding its 'SME Loan Guarantee Scheme' as part of its commitment to provide up to $40 billion in lending to small and medium enterprises.
So far, more than 35,000 loans worth more than $3 billion have already been provided, but now the scheme will be targeted to support businesses that have still been relying on JobKepper during the March quarter.
The expanded Scheme will also increase the size of eligible loans, increasing from $1 million under the current Scheme to $5 million. Maximum loan terms under the expanded Scheme will also be increased from 5 to 10 years.
"This SME Recovery Scheme is part of the next step in our plan to help small businesses stand on their own two feet as the economy recovers from COVID-19," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
"The expansion and extension of the loans will back businesses that back themselves and will help businesses who continue to do it tough build a bridge to the other side of the crisis and keep their staff employed."
Further, the $50 million Business Events Grants Program will also be extended by three months to support Australian businesses to hold multi-day business events, covering up to 50 per cent of costs incurred in participating business events during the 2021 calendar year.
The support has been welcomed by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) CEO Anna Bligh, saying it will help fuel Australia's economic recovery.
"This is the right product for the times. It includes more flexibility, and will allow small businesses to re-stock, rebuild and recover", Bligh said.
"The new phase of the scheme will make more businesses eligible and allow banks to provide more funding and support to businesses, particularly those still doing it tough."
The Government has also extended the following programs to 30 September 2021:
- the Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) and Regional Aviation Network Support (RANS) programs,
- the 50 per cent waiver of domestic air services charges for Regular Public Transport (RPT) and aeromedical flights, and
- the International Freight Assistance Mechanism.
The $94.6 million Zoos and Aquarium program will be extended by six months to support zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks to maintain their animal populations where their tourism revenue has been affected by travel and social distancing restrictions.
The COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program will also be extended for three months beyond 13 March.
Updated at 11.46am AEDT on 11 March 2021.
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