Small-time hoteliers, entrepreneurs and the self-employed in the informal tourism sector are eligible for interest-free loans of up to Rs. 500,000 to recover from the Easter Sunday fallout, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Titled ‘Sanchaaraka Poddo’ (Tourism Smalltimers), the loan facility offers a one-year grace period for a loan payable in three years in monthly installments of Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 12,000. Loans can be applied for from 10 July through Regional Development Banks.
Informal earners from tourism, homestay owners, et al in tourism hotspots like Ella and Mirissa stand to benefit from the loan offer facilitated by Enterprise Lanka credit, Samaraweera told journalists today (30).
“Business is already picking up, but the Finance Ministry has decided to assist smalltimers in the tourism sector who have now become victims of loan sharks,” he said.
The interest subsidy provided by the Treasury will amount to a total of Rs. 1.5 billion.
Private bus owners, too, who have been affected due to drops in passenger numbers in the wake of the Easter bombings, said the Minister, are eligible for a grace period for loan installments for the months of April and May.
Band members who make a living performing at outdoor music festivals will be provided working capital loans of up to Rs. 500,000 at 3.46% interest to be payable in two years starting 1 June.
Expressing confidence that “things will pick up” in about a year’s time, Samaraweera cautioned against extremism as a response to extremism.
“Political ghosts are attempting to create another Black July. Retaliating against innocent Muslims will only push them into the arms of the terrorists,” he said.