Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls on banks to step up amid COVID-19 crisis

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Canberra:  Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed the country’s banks for failing to provide loans to struggling businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, declaring that the sector need to step up.

Business groups have reported that staff across the country have been laid off because businesses have not been able to secure loans to pay wages.

In order to be eligible for the government’s A$130 billion ($82 billion) JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, businesses must continue to pay their staff until the government payments begin in the first week of May.

Australia’s big four banks had previously pledged to provide loans to underwrite wage bills until May but Morrison said they have not delivered.

“It is important that the banks stay up to the mark here,” Morrison told the media here on Friday.

“I am aware that there has been some frustration among businesses, in particular, in accessing bridging finance with banks. We are aware of that. I have no doubt the banks are aware of that as well and we need to be addressing that.”

Australia has reported 6,661 coronavirus cases, with 75 deaths.

(AGENCIES)