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Under 8% of Mexican firms got state aid as recession hit - survey

MEXICO CITY, July 23 (Reuters) - Less than 8% of Mexico’s firms received government support even as an economic recession deepened in the coronavirus pandemic, which has sharply boosted activity at funeral homes, surveys showed on Thursday.

The studies by national statistics agency INEGI underscore the impact of the economic and health crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the INEGI surveys estimated that of 1.87 million firms in Mexico, only 7.8% obtained some sort of help, mostly from federal, state or municipal governments.

That comes as Mexico’s economy is forecast to contract by up to 10% or more in 2020, and millions have lost their jobs. The finance ministry and the central bank have said the recession will be the worst since the 1930s Great Depression.

Just over half of Mexico’s firms suspended operations, the survey showed.

The main reason companies said they did not get aid is because they were not aware they could.

Some 37.4% of firms polled said they did not know, 18.2% said the process to apply for help was too complicated and another 17.5% said they asked for help but did not receive any.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has repeatedly ruled out private sector rescues, saying past bailouts only helped the rich and saddled Mexico with unsustainable debt.

Meanwhile, services at large funeral homes leapt 47% to an average of 516 services per home in May, from 351 in February, the second poll showed. Services at small funeral homes rose to an average of 16 per home in May, from 12 in February.

Mexico has reported 362,274 known coronavirus cases and 41,190 deaths, though the government admits the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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