- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Several major banking trade associations are complaining to the Trump administration about “significant problems” submitting loan applications to the Small Business Administration for the Paycheck Protection Program’s emergency relief.

In a letter viewed by The Washington Times, the banks and credit unions told SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that the electronic system known as E-Tran for processing loan applications still has “access issues.”

“Quite simply, it is taking too long to submit loans and get these funds where they need to go,” the groups said. “If the pace and performance of the E-Tran system cannot be improved, then we ask that you share that information with the public to help manage expectations for all of the small businesses still counting on PPP for a lifeline.”

Congress and the White House approved a new round of PPP grants and loans for small businesses totaling $310 billion, which opened on Monday. The first batch of aid, $350 billion, ran dry in less than two weeks.

The complaints come after President Trump hailed the program’s success on Monday in helping small business employees keep their jobs.

“Demand is extraordinarily high, and there are already twice as many users accessing the system as on any day under the first round,” Mr. Trump said. “In the first 24 hours of the second round of funding, we’ve handled over 30 percent more loans than any previous day of the program. So far, we’ve processed an amazing 450,000 loans, totaling over $50 billion.”

The letter to the SBA was signed by groups including the American Bankers Association, the Community Development Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, and the National Bankers Association.

The PPP provides loans and grants of up to $10 million for companies with fewer than 500 employees to keep workers on the payroll during the coronavirus crisis.

Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican, urged Treasury and the SBA in a letter Wednesday to “issue prompt guidance explaining how the loan-processing system will be made available to all sizes of lenders and how the agencies will prevent future rounds of funding from being dominated by larger banks.”

“I have heard from a number of community banks in Georgia that are struggling to access E-TRAN, SBA’s system for processing PPP loans and a necessary component of borrower approval,” Mr. Collins wrote. “Unfortunately, it seems community banks have been inadvertently shoved out of the application process. Instead, larger banks are flooding the system and rendering it inaccessible to smaller lenders, which are applying on behalf of many small businesses across America, including those left out of the first round of funding.”

Mr. Collins, a candidate for the Senate, also asked Treasury and SBA to “publicize which companies have received PPP loans to ensure Congress and the American people can understand where their taxpayer dollars have flowed.”

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