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U.S. Territories, like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are getting very little COVID-19 loan aid says Rep. Velazquez and Rep. Grijalva.
House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) penned a letter to the Department of the Treasury and Small Business Administration (SBA) on disparities that have emerged in the allocation of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in the U.S. territories.
New data shows that aid is not being allocated proportionately to U.S. territories. For example, Puerto Rico, which accounts for approximately 1 percent of the population of the United States; received only 0.17 percent of all loans by count and 0.19 percent by amount under the PPP. Similarly, the data shows that American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are all receiving a percentage amount of total PPP loans that is lower than their percentage of the total U.S. population. In the letter, the lawmakers request more information from the administration to ensure that underserved businesses in the territories receive equitable access to the program.
“Small businesses in the five territories are facing the same dire conditions as those in the fifty states. Yet, data shows that they are not receiving equal treatment from this Administration when it comes to Paycheck Protection Program loans,” said Chairwoman Velázquez. “This situation is unacceptable, and the SBA must take immediate steps to ensure that local lenders are engaged, and small business owners are educated about the resources available to them. Otherwise, economies in the territories will be further devastated and American small businesses will be denied vital lifelines that help them pay their employees and keep their business afloat.”
“The Trump administration is not distributing paycheck protection loans fairly in U.S. territories, especially Puerto Rico. The SBA needs to explain how it will improve program accessibility in the territories, and local lenders must ensure small businesses are getting the help they need through a national emergency,” said Chairman Grijalva. “Congress created the PPP program to protect small businesses, nonprofit organizations, veteran organizations, and tribal businesses around the country suffering from the economic downturn. If this administration fails to carry out that basic governmental function, either through incompetence or negligence, the president will have nobody else to blame – and millions of Americans living in the territories will suffer for it.”
Source of original article: Black Star News (www.blackstarnews.com).
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