(Washington) Declaring the end of this pilot program, the administration said Tuesday that the government has loaned nearly $800 billion to US small and medium-sized businesses since the start of the pandemic, as part of the public-private partnership mechanism.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) said in a statement that the US federal government has loaned more than $798 billion to more than 8.5 million businesses and nonprofits.
11.8 million loans were also granted, according to documents published by the administration, which some companies were able to benefit from several times.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program was one of the key actions of the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus plan adopted at the end of March 2020 by the Trump administration and Congress, when the United States was confined due to the spread of COVID-19 in their lands.
It aims to allow companies to continue to pay their employees, even though their activity has decreased, or even closed completely, due to the pandemic.
The loans were intended to convert them into support, and thus debt cancellation, for companies that had already used most of them to pay employees. More than half were already canceled at the end of May.
Additional funds were awarded for this program, and Joe Biden also extended it upon his arrival in the White House.
However he emphasized that he wanted to give preference to small businesses, especially those belonging to women or minorities, which often could not take advantage of the first loans offered, as they had fewer relationships with banks.
Church of Scientology and Kanye West
But the show was marred by a scandal when it was revealed that billionaires, including rapper Kanye West or visual artist Jeff Koons, were able to cash in.
Also among the recipients were investment funds, restaurant chains, US elected officials, as well as the powerful Church of Scientology. Upscale burger chain Shake Shack has announced that it will return its $10 million loan.
At the same time, the US Central Bank (Fed), together with the Treasury Department, created a loan program for medium-sized companies, too large to benefit from PPP loans, but too small to be funded by the markets.