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US has 'no problem issuing more debt': Mnuchin

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The US government has "no problem issuing more debt" to stem the economic carnage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday.

[WASHINGTON] The US government has "no problem issuing more debt" to stem the economic carnage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday.

As Congress and President Donald Trump negotiate over a US$1.3 trillion stimulus package aimed at tempering what many economists expect to be a forthcoming recession, Mr Mnuchin said passing that measure is "the most important issue."

Mr Trump on Wednesday signed a $100 billion emergency aid package that ensures sick leave to American workers who fall ill from the virus, free coronavirus testing, paid family leave and a bolstering of unemployment insurance.

Lawmakers are now negotiating over another measure - possibly among the largest federal emergency plans ever - that reportedly would include up to US$500 billion in direct payments to Americans, US$300 billion in loans to small businesses and another US$300 billion in deferred tax payments.

The virus has hit consumer spending hard as authorities order events canceled, restaurants and businesses closed and people to stay at home.

US airlines have asked for a US$50 billion bailout, while hotel chains have begun laying workers off.

Once the stimulus bill is passed, Mr Mnuchin predicted that American businesses would have greater access to credit and "you're going to see a stabilisation."

Congress earlier in March passed a US$8.3 billion emergency spending measure to mobilise resources against the disease.

AFP