MOSCOW, 13 Jan – PRIME. Russian banks began to issue loans to small and medium-sized businesses at a reduced rate – no more than 7% – as part of the adjusted program of concessional lending, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation reported on Wednesday, citing the deputy head of the department, Tatyana Ilyushnikova. The government has reduced rates on concessional loans for small businesses. Russian credit institutions started issuing the first loans to SMEs at a reduced rate on January 12. Ilyushnikova explained that the maximum final rate for borrowers is determined based on the key rate of the Bank of Russia in effect at the date of the agreement, plus no more than 2.75%. “Taking into account the current rate of the Bank of Russia, the marginal rate on the loan will now be 7%,” she said. As noted in the message, now the average market rate on loans with a maturity of more than one year is 8.17%. It is planned that small and medium-sized businesses in 2021 will receive 700 billion rubles of loans at a preferential rate within the framework of the national SME project. Among the priority sectors targeted by the program, the ministry named agriculture, tourism, construction, water supply, education, health care, culture, sports – more than 20 sectors in total. “The adjustment of the program is primarily aimed at reducing the credit burden on entrepreneurs. We hope that businesses will actively use such loans both to support current activities and to launch investment projects,” added the Deputy Minister of Economic Development. In 2020, within the framework of the concessional lending program, more than 17 thousand loan agreements were concluded for a total amount of more than 1 trillion rubles, more than 900 billion rubles were issued.