Small businesses start to get bailout funds, but payments lag globally
A sign that reads “Shop Local” with restaurants and stores closed on Main Street on April 10, 2020 in Livingston, MT.
Guillaume Campbell | Getty Images
Small businesses have requested more than half of the $ 350 billion allocated to the paycheck protection program – and all the funds can be talked about for this week – but the amount actually paid to businesses is lagging behind.
The “PPP”, the Trump administration’s central program to help small businesses overcome the economic effects of the coronavirus, approved 860,000 requests for $ 210 billion in loans from 4,500 lenders – an achievement hailed by many bankers.
However, moving from demand to disbursement turned out to be another challenge that bankers said was hampered by the lack of clarity from the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration and the need to use first. bank staff to process requests before closing loans.
“The banks are absolutely starting to fund, and you’re going to see those numbers increase dramatically,” said Rob Nichols, president of the American Bankers Association. Nichols added, however, “We’re still looking for guidance around some of the outlines of the program.”
He would not say whether this lack of guidance has hampered disbursements.
The Treasury Department declined to comment. A senior administration official told CNBC that figures for disbursements from banks to businesses were not yet available, despite repeated requests.
“Right now we have mostly undisbursed loans,” said Tony Wilkinson, president of the National Association of Guaranteed Government Lenders. “We still don’t have a program guide.”
The reason some financial institutions disburse and others do not comes down to whether the bank feels it has enough assurances from the government.
Wilkinson and others say banks don’t have a form detailing what borrowers need to do to get a loan forgiveness. The law requires 75% of the loan amount to be paid towards wages, but some bankers say they need this and other details stipulated in a loan authorization form, including the types of payments a borrower must perform if the loan is not canceled, monthly or quarterly. And bankers also say they need details on the government guarantee of the banks. That is, under what conditions will the government repay bank loans or not? Bankers point out that the government has changed its mind in the past on previous emergency loan programs.
Kevin Sabin, chairman of Arvest Bank, said his bank had processed 5,000 “PPP” loans valued at over $ 800 million. Sabin said the smallest loan request was for $ 2,380 and the largest was for the program’s maximum limit of $ 10 million. The bank, which operates in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, was successful in clearing traffic jams in the application system when it realized traffic was low at midnight.
“We just swarmed this thing,” Sabin said.
The bank financed 35 to 40% of the loans.
“Rather than wait, we decided to go ahead and go back to clients if we need more information,” Sabin said. “We are quite confident that we are respecting the spirit of what was provided for in the law.”
But Wilkinson said several banks in his group were concerned that they were unsure of exactly what borrowers need to do to get their loans canceled and what banks need to do for the guarantee to be fulfilled by the SBA. He said banks should rely on a frequently asked questions published by the Treasury which has changed several times “and most bankers prefer not to hang on to an FAQ”.
At the same time, Wilkinson praised the SBA for its ability to quickly speed up the application process for a program that did not exist several weeks ago.
In an interview with CNBC’s “The Exchange,” Peter Cancro, CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, said the company, along with the approximately 475 store franchise owners, initiated the PPP loan application process on Sunday, March 29. , following a detailed call with experts on how to complete and file the necessary documents.
“We have now completed it and are waiting for the SBA number, which some have received and most do not have,” Cancro said. “We are optimistic and we will hear something this week,” he added.
Cancro also noted that the application process was smoother for homeowners who had existing relationships with a lender, and many homeowners went through their local banks.
An official from the Community Bankers Association said that 80% of its members participate in the PPP but only 20% disburse loans.
Clem Rosenberger, president of NexTier bank in western Pennsylvania, said his bank has 500 SBA-approved loans and expects to have 200 funded on Monday as he transfers resources from receiving applications loan financing. The bank decided to use its own loan form rather than waiting for one from the SBA, and found a way to process its home-based loan officers.
“We were able to break through the system,” Rosenberger said.
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