I welcome the 14th report of the Credit Review Office and compliment the credit reviewer, Mr. John Trethowan. The report stated that in 56% of appeals, the Credit Review Office found in favour of the borrowers, which has resulted in €29.7 million of extra credit being made available to SMEs and farms, thereby helping to protect or create 2,090 jobs. Ensuring SMEs and farmers have access to credit is a key priority. They play a crucial role in economic and employment growth. In the recent budget, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, announced that Permanent TSB will shortly recommence actively engaging with and lending to the SME sector, and that it has agreed to participate in the Credit Review Office process. Ulster Bank is actively considering making a similar commitment.
The Credit Review Office was established to help SME and farm borrowers, as well as others, which have had an application for credit of up to €3 million declined or reduced and which feel they have a viable business proposition and have not been treated fairly. Where conditions are changed unfairly or where onerous, extra impositions are made on borrowers, they can use the office, which is vital. The process is confidential and the office has done great work and we should take it on board. Perhaps when we debate financial matters, hopefully in the near future, we could incorporate it. I compliment the office on its success.