SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce requested on Thursday that the formula used for the Payroll Protection Program be revised and made more flexible so that access to said benefit for entrepreneurs can be ensured.
The Payroll Protection Program comes from funds allocated from the Coronovirus Relief Fund that was awarded under the Federal CARES Act. It is being managed by the Financial Advisory Authority and Fiscal Agency (AAFAF) and the Department of the Treasury. According to a report from said program as of October 2, only 44 million dollars of the 350 million dollars that are available in said fund had been distributed, which represents 12.5 percent of the total funds, impacting only 5,324 businesses, ”said Juan Carlos Agosto, president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce in written communication.
“We are concerned that more than 80 percent of the participants and disbursements were made in the first week of the program. After this, as a general rule, both the number of applications and the amount of benefits have been drastically reduced. However, businesses, particularly small ones, continue to suffer from the economic difficulties that the pandemic has brought, ”he added.
Agosto urged the Secretary of the Treasury Department, Francisco Parés, and Mr. Omar Marrero, executive director of AAFAF, to make the program’s requirements more flexible so that it can reach the businessman who really needs it. These funds must have been consumed by December 30, 2020; For this reason, it is essential to modify the computations for the granting of said benefit and make them more flexible.
“We are aware that these funds come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund that was granted under the Federal CARES Act and that said statute is intended not to duplicate benefits. That is why we understand the reason for making adjustments to the computation when other benefits were received such as forgivable loans (ie, EIDL and PPP) or private concessions by industry under said federal statute. However, it must also be considered that said benefits granted under CARES were used in the first weeks of this crisis and that to date, more than six months after the first order of closure, business operations have not been able to be reestablished. with normality ”, indicated Agosto.
He pointed out that “all our small businessmen continue with their operations affected by the situation of the pandemic. Failure to make the formula more flexible will mean that these funds cannot be used to help our entrepreneurs and will surely have to be returned ”.