June 15, 2020 / 4:09 PM / 20 days ago

Mnuchin will discuss PPP oversight with Congress after criticism

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during a Senate Small Business Committee hearing on coronavirus relief aid and "Implementation of title I of the CARES Act.", in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2020. Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday he would talk to Congress about proper oversight of $660 billion in small business economic relief, after previously resisting calls to reveal who received the funds.

Mnuchin tweeted he would discuss oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with lawmakers in attempt to balance disclosure with “appropriate protection of small business information.”

Earlier this month, Mnuchin told lawmakers that revealing which businesses received PPP loans and for how much could be “confidential” and “proprietary,” in part because the loan amounts are determined by how much a business pays employees.

But the resistance was met with blowback from both Republicans and Democrats, who said it is difficult to appropriately guide government aid during the pandemic without knowing where the money is going. Furthermore, they added the public has a right to see where taxpayer dollars are spent.

“Given the many problems with the PPP program, it is imperative American taxpayers know if the money is going where Congress intended - to the truly small and unbanked small business. The administration’s resistance to transparency is outrageous and only serves to raise further suspicions about how the funds are being distributed and who is actually benefiting,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, in a statement Friday.

Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Chris Reese

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