Business & Economy

Drowning in debt, Bolivia’s small business owners ask for help

La Paz, June 17 (EFE).- Owners of small businesses marched Wednesday in La Paz to demand that authorities support the sector, as they find themselves drowning in loans while their business activity has collapsed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The march, promoted by associations such as the Regional Federation of Micro and Small Enterprises (Fermype) of the neighboring city of El Alto, traveled through downtown La Paz requesting the interim government and the Bolivian parliament to meet their demands.

“Nobody listens,” some of the protesters lamented, in front of a police cordon that stopped their passage through the center of the Bolivian city.

One of their slogans was “Made in Bolivia, made in Bolivia,” with posters with the logo of that slogan, to demand support for the national production that they represent.

Protesters demanded that they be able to work without the limitations of the quarantine declared in the country, which has reduced economic activity, and that a law be applied to defer the payment of credits, since without income they accumulate debts, and to postpone basic service fees.

A government decree postponed until August the payment of credits to those who owe less than 1 million Bolivianos (about $145,000), but they warn that banks are demanding that they pay as of September.

The entrepreneurs demand the application of a section of the rule that gives them six months to pay from the end of the health emergency.

Bolivia has been in a state of health emergency since the end of March due to the coronavirus outbreak, with a flexible quarantine from June 1 in some parts of the country, in an attempt to revive the economy. However, different sectors are demanding support as they are still low in income and have debts to pay.

The interim government approved a series of measures to support business owners, but denounces that some are paralyzed in parliament, including the financial bill for these grants. EFE


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