Treasury's Mnuchin open to blanket forgiveness for smaller business relief loans
By Pete Schroeder and David Lawder
WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday policymakers should consider blanket forgiveness for all smaller businesses that received "Paycheck Protection Program" loans.
Mnuchin told lawmakers that they should consider such an approach to reduce complexity, coupled with some form of fraud protection.
He also said the Trump administration supports adding more funds to the $660 billion program, as well as allowing especially hard-hit businesses to apply for a second emergency loan.
He did not define how small a loan would have to be to qualify for automatic forgiveness, and added it should be paired with some form of fraud protection without going into detail. Several business and banking groups have pushed for blanket forgiveness for all loans under $150,000, arguing the requirements for applying for forgiveness under the program are too complex.
His comments come as Congress is preparing further economic relief legislation to support businesses and people harmed by pandemic lockdowns. Roughly $100 billion remains in the PPP, a forgivable loan program created by the initial stimulus package, is set to expire on Aug. 8.
Mnuchin added that he would also support applying some sort of "revenue test" to future PPP loans to make sure the remaining funds go to businesses that need it the most. The PPP has come under criticism after wealthy and larger companies secured loans under the program, which was billed as relief for small businesses.
"This time, we need to have a revenue test and make sure that money is going to businesses that have significant revenue declines," he said.
He also said he would support efforts to set aside a portion of remaining PPP funds for minority-owned businesses, amid concerns from some lawmakers that those businesses were struggling to secure funding.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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