May 28, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Business Support Programs: $ 68 million for non-compliant companies

Business Support Programs: $ 68 million for non-compliant companies

The management of support programs for companies during the epidemic is not always adequate, Quebec Auditor General Slice. The finance minister has granted $ 68 million in loans to at least 10 companies that do not meet all selection criteria.

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  • Listen to an interview with Quebec Auditor General Gailine Leclerc on QUB Radio:

On Wednesday, the Auditor General (VG), Gailine Leclerc, presented her annual report to the National Assembly.

In the document, MMe The LeClerk Ministry of Economy and Innovation and Investment describes Quebec (IQ) as the Provisional Concerned Action Program for Enterprises (PACTE) and Emergency Assistance Program Management for Small and Medium Enterprises (PAUPME).

These two temporary supports were set up in the spring of 2020 to help companies affected by the epidemic in emergencies. These programs have more than $ 3 billion in envelopes.

IQ is responsible for the amounts granted on loans and loan guarantees to businesses under the PACTE program. For PAUPME, this work came to the Regional County Municipalities (MRCs).

“Not completely and transparently”

Among other things, VG considers the published eligibility criteria for PACTE to be “completely and non-transparent”, meaning that “some companies do not submit a request for assistance.” , Is likely to believe that they are not eligible for the program ”.

Although the company did not meet the standards, Finance Minister Pierre FitzGibbon said the provision allowing the loan to be granted had not been made public. He did not disclose the names of the companies to be blessed.

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“Other companies may file a request based on similar requirements if this opportunity is made public,” VG wrote in its report.

Of the 10 companies that do not meet all standards, some have already “established business relationships with IQ,” VG said.

The two loans authorized by the Minister are to support the growth plan and to support the capital project. Amounts were also paid to companies that were in financial trouble before COVID-19 or had not yet demonstrated profitability.

In addition, some of these loans were granted with interest rates lower than those specified in the management guide and with repayment terms exceeding the allowable maximum.

In recent years, Finance Minister Pierre FitzGibbon has also been the subject of four investigations by the Ethics Commissioner. He also had to resign his post for a while.

The VG Office has confirmed a total of 22 loans or loan guarantees amounting to $ 251.2 million under PACTE.

Different criteria

For PAUPME, VG believes that the processing of requests for assistance is “not always fair from one MRC to another” because the requirements are not the same. She said the finance ministry had not “ensured adequate oversight” of the program.

“Some companies have been treated unfairly due to inconsistencies in the requirements and standards used, and their application has been rejected. If these companies are in another MRC it can be approved,” read the report.

VG found that four of the five RCMs selected for its work “added their own standards or requirements”. As a result, the acceptance rate of applications varies considerably between each MRC.

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In 2020, the Ministry of Finance was ranked 12th out of 20, according to the Treasury Board Performance Report, which particularly takes into account the achievement of strategic plans and ministry objectives.

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