Brazil taps USD8B for small businesses hit by COVID-19

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday the government will extend nearly USD8 billion in low-interest loans to small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Small and medium-sized businesses hit by COVID-19 containment measures will be able to take out loans at 3.75 per cent interest – well below the market rate of around 20 per cent – to cover two months of salary for their employees, provided they make no layoffs during that time.

“Our concern is preserving jobs. We’re facing two destructive waves: first coronavirus, then the economic impact. We’re doing all we can to reduce the size of those waves,” the far-right President told a news conference.

The government estimates the programme will benefit 1.4 million companies and 12.2 million workers.