22,466 Loans for Small RestaurantsBy Jan Hogewoning | Thu, 05/07/2020 - 14:07
In today’s press briefing, Minister of Economy Graciela Márquez stated that more than 900,000 beneficiaries are in the process of receiving loans in a joint effort between the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Well-being. The minister specified that 61 percent of the loans are being provided to companies engaged in commerce activities. So far, 22,466 loans have been provided to restaurants and 10,568 to bakeries and patisseries. Each loan is worth MX$25,000 (US$1,029). The beneficiaries will be expected to start repayment three months after having received the loan. This will be done in monthly installments of MX$850 (US$35.28) over three years. The interest rate will be 6.5 percent annually, the same rate handled by Banxico. In turn, Banco Azteca, Santander or Banorte will sign off the loans.
A positive aspect of this loan scheme is that government has devised a pathway for informal commerce to receive loans. Formal businesses with an RFC registration can apply for a loan through IMSS. Informal businesses, on the other hand, need to apply through the Ministry of Well-being. One requirement to receive a loan is to be registered in the Well-being Census, a registration of 5 million businesses that was conducted by the government in 2018 and 2019 to identify potential beneficiaries of government programs. This means that those that were not registered will be excluded from a loan opportunity. The census has been criticized for not being transparent in its methodology. The government has not published the methodology nor the results. Some have voiced concerns that the census favors areas which are of electoral interest to the governing party.
If businesses are indeed registered on the census, and they apply for a loan, they will be contacted to verify their identity and line of business. Exchange of documents is done through phone lines and WhatsApp with staff of the Ministry of Well-being. The phone call that is made to confirm an application has an automatic robot question asking if the applicant is indeed seeking a loan. A simple ‘Yes’ by the applicant completes the process. In some cases, phone calls where questions were asked about personal documents have raised suspicion among business owners. Others have reported that they have been approached by intermediaries offering to help them get the loan in exchange for a fee. It is important that applicants apply through official channels only. The Ministry of Well-being has clarified that these loans are not available for starting new businesses.