Coronavirus: Banks aren't handing out loans fast enough to save businesses, experts warn

Cash isn't going out fast enough for many businesses teetering on the brink of collapse, financial experts are warning.

The current $6 billion loan scheme gives an 80 percent Government guarantee to loans approved by banks - but that's creating some major roadblocks.

Banks have been tasked with approving loans of up to $500,000 to businesses in strife. The loans are guaranteed, meaning if a business fails to pay it back, the Government will cover 80 percent of the bill. 

But the loans are struggling to get out the door. 

"Well all the anecdotes I've had from the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) I know, and from the banks I've been speaking to, the money is not going out fast enough," leading economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

Other experts are in agreement. Canterbury University economics professor Jedrzej Bialkowski says the scheme is a good idea in principle, "but the implementation needs some level of polishing". 

That polishing has already been seen overseas. 

"What has been done in Switzerland is probably a better model, where for the first half-a-million dollars, the Government guarantees all the debt and the interest payments are zero," Eaqub said.

Prof Bialkowski says "if the guarantee is increased to 100 percent then the banks will not have skin in the game".

But the Finance Minister is pouring cold water on the idea. 

"For now, the Government is committed to the 80-20 risk-share split with the banks," Grant Robertson said in a statement to Newshub on Friday evening.

"This means the banks retain skin in the game, so that in the long-run it can be a better outcome for the economy."

A change would boost the cost of the scheme, but businesses are struggling to survive as it stands.

"The cost of business failures is much larger than waiting to roll out a comprehensive system," Eaqub said.