KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called on the 10 local banks to establish special departments or sections and facilities to deal with small borrowers and small and medium industries (SMIs).
He said mergers and acquisitions had resulted in the banks getting big but there were complaints they were not giving much attention to small borrowers.
Dr Mahathir said he heard some complaints that the banks were bigger now but they were not giving much attention to the “small people,” those who wanted to borrow a few hundred thousand or less.
“They are not given the same kind of attention because big banks are more interested in their big clients. I hope this is not true,'' he said when addressing guests at the launch of the AmFinance building in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said the banks should give equal treatment to small borrowers because the banks could not go bankrupt by the failure or default by smaller borrowers.
He also criticised local banks for not being forthcoming in disbursing loans to small borrowers.
In jest he said: “I have a bad habit of turning up at the wrong places at the wrong time. I usually don't go to the bank but for this purpose I might go to the bank and I might want to borrow RM10,000.
“If you’re not prepared to give the service, I have to rethink about having 10 banks. Maybe we need to go back to 56 banks. I am not threatening but advising. But advice from the Finance Minister, who also happens to be the Prime Minister, is worth taking note of,'' he said.
Dr Mahahthir said the Government was keen for SMIs and small businessmen to have access to financing as much as “people who borrow tens of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“Please remember that when big borrowers fail, you lose a lot of money but when small borrowers fail you don’t lose much money,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said the “small people” were part of the economic system of the country and that the country could not have big players only, without the supporting role of the small players.
He said many industries outsourced their needs from small manufacturers and companies.
Also present at the launch were AmBank group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim and Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
During the function, the Prime Minister received a RM1.2mil contribution for the CPTM (Commonwealth Partnership and Technology Management) Endowment and another RM1mil for a Malaysian community project from AmBank.