NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP says it has approved giving some money to businesses along the Gulf Coast that have been hurt by the oil spill.

BP said Tuesday it approved 337 checks for a total amount of $16 million to businesses that have filed damage claims in excess of $5,000.

BP has come under criticism by business owners and residents along the Gulf for not efficiently processing relief claims.

Earlier Tuesday, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration is ready to take over the handling of oil spill damage claims from BP if the company doesn't set up an "independent entity" to do it.

To date, BP said it has opened 25 claims offices and issued about 25,000 checks totaling $63 million.