New Delhi, May 19 -- Public sector banks have sanctioned loans worth Rs 6.45 lakh crore in about two-and -a-half months to small borrowers, out of which about Rs 50,000 crore was approved in just one week ending May 15, as the government attempted to alleviate the distress caused to businesses by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

The loans were sanctioned to 5.5 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and retail, agriculture and corporate sectors between March 1 and May 15, the finance minister's office (FMO) tweeted on Tuesday, describing it as a "notable increase compared to the Rs 5.95 lakh crore sanctioned as of May 8."

The loans included Rs 1.03 lakh crore extended as emergency credit li...