Citing the "flawed launch" of the federal Paycheck Protection loan program, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) has made several recommendations to Trump administration officials to fix it.
"Nearly 48 hours after the program went live, hundreds of lenders are still trying to get approval to access the SBA system so they can process loans," ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey wrote in an April 5 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration chief Jovita Carranza.
In a blog post Friday on the ICBA web site, Rainey elaborated on the frustrations of community bankers.
"Unfortunately, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) rollout today did not work for many of the nation's community bankers. In my opinion, one community bank left out is one too many," she wrote. Many could not gain access to the online portals while others were placed on hold for hours.
"This is a nightmare situation for any community banker whose mission is to help the customers and communities they serve," Rainey wrote.
ICBA officials made several recommendations to improve the program, starting with support and enhancement of the "overburdened" SBA systems.
Also, ICBA recommends increasing the $349 billion in available funding. ICBA said that amount is "frankly inadequate for the magnitude of need in the American small business community and is likely to run out quickly." Further, it said, the government should allocate at least 25% of the funding to banks with under $50 billion in assets, saying they are often in markets not served by large banks.
Finally, ICBA says the Treasury and Federal Reserve should launch a secondary facility to purchase program loans from originating institutions as quickly as possible: "This program should not be limited by the balance sheet capacity of participating lenders."