Government auditors and watchdog groups have had a lot to look into regarding the exhausted Payroll Protection Program — which handed forgivable loans to companies amid the coronavirus pandemic — including whether government contractors should have been allowed to take the money.
A Wall Street Journal analysis found that several companies judged themselves eligible for the loans despite working on active government projects, a move which has prompted some criticism. “If you had contracts on the books and were being paid and were in a strong financial situation, you shouldn’t have taken the money,” said Steve Ellis, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan government-spending watchdog.
The practice appears to have been common in Florida, where 68 road contractors with active state projects were approved for loans of more than $150,000, the Journal reports, though the companies said they applied for the program because they faced great uncertainty back in April despite their existing contracts. The Government Accountability Office said it’s aware of the “potential issue” of government contractors receiving PPP funds, but has “not made any final determinations as of yet.”
The Treasury Department purposely set a low bar for companies to receive funds and allowed businesses to certify their own eligibility in the hopes of getting money out swiftly during the economic crisis. Going forward, though, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials and lawmakers want more restrictions in order to make sure the companies getting loans have experienced declining revenues. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.