As expected, President Trump signed into law today a bill that gives business owners more flexibility to use taxpayer subsidies under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for other costs and extend the lifespan of the program as the economy continues to struggle through record joblessness and a deep recession amid the coronavirus crisis.

The legislation lowers an original requirement that at least 75 percent of Paycheck Protection Program money be used on payroll costs, reducing that threshold to 60 percent of the loan. It would also lengthen the period in which PPP money must be used — and still permit businesses to have their loans forgiven — from eight week to 24 weeks.

As reported by THE WEEKLY JOURNAL, at least 22,547 businesses, representing more than half of small and midsize businesses on the island, have benefited from the PPP funds. The total granted for Puerto Rico business is $1.65 billion.

Small businesses had complained that the original rules were too inflexible, especially as the eight-week window to use the taxpayer subsidies is beginning to close for many businesses, many of which are still struggling to fully reopen.

All told, Congress has approved $660 billion for the program in two installments. After an initial burst of loans emptied the program in just two weeks, demand for PPP funding has dwindled amid griping from some business sectors that there are too many restrictions in order to qualify to receive loan forgiveness. Businesses receiving PPP must also certify that they need it to keep operating, a requirement that makes some business owners cautious about applying.

-The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Reporter for The Weekly Journal. She is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience. Rosario received both of her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

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