Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal
- Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga requests CB Chief to extend concessions granted to tourism sector
- CB Governor says Rs. 4,100 b disbursed as loans, interest rates on loans reduced by Rs. 330 b
- First 21 days of November attracts 29,000 tourists; Minister confident of around 180,000 tourists by year end
The Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal yesterday expressed confidence that the economic crisis would ease by January.
“All sectors in the country are currently under pressure due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the world now coming to terms with the new normal, the pressure will be at its maximum until next January, after which it will gradually subside,” Cabraal said at a special discussion held at the Central Bank
The special meeting was held on the request of the Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga to discuss the problems faced by those engaged in the tourism sector. The issues pertaining to tours, civil aviation, airports and airlines, and the national carrier – SriLankan Airlines – which are under the Ministry of Tourism, were discussed at length.
The Tourism Minister requested the Central Bank Governor to extend the concessions granted to those engaged in the tourism sector until the industry recovers. The Minister also pointed out that requests had been made to restructure the loans obtained by those engaged in the tourism sector.
In response, Governor Cabraal said that attention had been paid in this regard. He said that creditors could request the relevant banks, and if necessary, the Central Bank would recommend.
Ranatunga also said that leasing companies continued to seize vehicles of those engaged in the tourism industry. In addition, there have been reports of leasing companies collecting more money in instalments when granting lease concessions, the Minister lamented.
In response, the Governor assured that the leasing companies have been directed to stop the seizing of vehicles. Cabraal emphasised that it was not permissible to include additional premium when granting lease concessions and requested the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) to inform the Central Bank immediately if there were any incidents of leasing companies acquiring vehicles and collecting extra money. He also stressed that action would be taken against the leasing companies involved in such incidents.
The Central Bank Governor also pointed out that Rs. 4,100 billion had been provided as loan relief in the recent past and that the interest on loans had been reduced by Rs. 330 billion.
Minister Ranatunga said that 29,000 tourists had arrived in the country from 1-21 November and that he expected around 150,000 and 180,000 tourists would arrive in the country by the end of this year.
Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi, Aviation State Ministry Secretary Madhava Devasurendra, SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijayasingha, Civil Aviation Authority Chairman Upul Dharmadasa, Airport and Aviation Services (Lanka) Ltd. Vice Chairman Rajiv Sooriyarachchi, Deputy Governor Yvette Fernando and many other officials from the Central Bank were present at the discussion.