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UPDATE 1-Brazil announces new measures to expand credit to micro-sized firms

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BRASILIA, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Brazil’s National Monetary Council (CMN) on Thursday announced new measures to expand and speed up the flow of credit to micro-sized businesses, many of whom have been hardest hit by the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CMN, Brazil’s highest economic policy body including the economy minister and central bank president, raised the annual revenue limit for firms to access the credit. That will allow loans to be obtained 100% online, and relax rules on restructured and potential bad loans.

“These improvements will increase the number of beneficiaries of the microcredit program and simplify the requirements for granting it,” the central bank said in a statement.

Firms with annual gross revenue of up to 360,000 reais ($65,000) will now be eligible to obtain credit via the program, up from a previous cap of 200,000 reais.

The process for requesting and obtaining credit will now be available fully online, removing the previous rule that entrepreneurs needed at least one face-to-face meeting with the lending financial institution.

Earlier on Thursday, central bank president Roberto Campos Neto said the bank’s crisis-fighting emergency credit programs have been a key factor behind the economy’s “robust” recovery.

“We know that it is important to keep the credit channel on and always working. The pandemic credit measures have paid off,” Campos Neto said.

The central bank’s liquidity, guarantees and credit measures announced since the onset of the pandemic are worth a potential 1.3 trillion reais, according to the bank’s figures.

$1 = 5.50 reais Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Jamie McGeever Editing by Chris Reese and Sam Holmes