AMMAN Support provided by banks to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increased by 10.4 per cent towards the end of 2018, the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) announced on Saturday.

The support was valued at JD2.34 billion by the end of September 2018, compared with JD2.12 billion at the end of 2017, the CBJ reported.

In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, the CBJ said that loans had witnessed sustainable growth at 10.4 per cent by the end of the third quarter of 2018, up from a 6.4 per cent growth rate during the same period of 2017.

These rates exceeded the total growth rate of other areas granted loans by banks, the CBJ noted.

For the first time in years, the growth rate of support for SMEs kept pace with the rate of total support, which, for the same period stood at 4.1 per cent. The CBJ said that these figures highlighted banks interest in providing loans to SMEs.

The bank attributed such interest to the keenness of the CBJ and stakeholders over the past six years to start initiatives to enhance SMEs access to loans, as well as the drop in growth rates for loans for individuals.

The share of SMEs loans during the January-September period of 2018 rose to 10.2 per cent, compared with 9.6 per cent during the same period of 2017, the CBJ said, noting that the rate increased to 11 per cent when loans granted by microfinance institutions were added to the figures.

The efforts and initiatives of the CBJ, the government and institutions from the public and private sectors to enhance SMEs access to finance centred on soft loans with relatively low costs.

Such soft loans contributed to creating some 14,000 jobs, and loan guarantees were provided by the Jordan Loan Guarantee Corporation, which the CBJ has a 45 per cent stake in.

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