The debt moratorium on capital and interest for the tourism industry, which will expire on 31 March 2021, is most likely to be extended further by another year as the country’s tourism sector still struggles to overcome pandemic disruption in the wake of new variant detection, The Sunday Morning Business learns.
Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga, speaking to us, stated that currently discussions are being held with relevant government authorities to extend the debt moratorium.
“The tourism sector has just begun and since it will take time to get back to normal, discussions are being held to facilitate the tourism industry,” Ranatunga said.
Meanwhile, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Sanath Ukwatte said that the industry has requested for an extension from the Government and added that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his budget speech noted that it might be extended till September this year.
“Until we fully recover it will take at least another year, so we have requested the Government to consider for one more year. We are hoping to finalise this by the end of this month since we are the worst impacted industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic, therefore we hope that things will work out,” Ukwatte added.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) extended the debt moratorium by six months from 30 September 2020 until 31 March 2021. This moratorium was issued by the CBSL in April 2019 after consideration of the Easter Sunday terror attacks.
However, attempts to contact CBSL proved futile on Thursday (18).
The CBSL requested banks to provide a debt moratorium to Covid-19-affected businesses and individuals in the tourism sector for a further period of six months commencing from 1 October 2020, to 31 March 2021. The CBSL directed the banks to amalgamate the capital and interest fall due during the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020 with the capital and interest fall due during the period from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021, except for Equal Monthly Instalment (EMI) loans for which the interest rate for the moratorium period is capped at 7% per annum.
Sri Lanka’s tourism sector is among the top three foreign exchange-earning sources of the country. Even before the closure of the airport to mitigate the spread of the virus, Sri Lanka was struggling to attract tourists in the early weeks of this year, mainly due to stringent travel restrictions imposed in China, which is among the top five tourism-generating markets of Sri Lanka. (themorning.lk)