The Department of Industrial Promotion will extend loans initially totalling Bt20 billion from a Pracha Rath fund for SME development in eight provinces, starting with Songkhla on May 24. Eight provinces have been initially targeted for the programme. Besides Songkhla, they are Krabi, Chon Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Phitsanulok, Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani. The fund will focus on extending loans to small and medium-sized enterprises making retail products. In each province, 75 per cent of the beneficiaries will receive loans of no more than Bt3 million each and the remaining 25 per cent no more than Bt10 million each. The loans will bear a lending rate of 1 per cent with a repayment period of seven years and a three-year grace period.