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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka hotels, travel agencies to get 4-pct loan on EPF records: Tourism Authority

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Authority said a loan at 4.0 percent interest would be given to hotels and travel agencies and restaurants registered under it to pay salaries for 144,000 persons for the next six months

About 124,000 staff with employment records in hotels and travel agencies as well as over 10,000 workers at restaurants, spas, tourist shops and water sports centres could benefit, the SLTDA said.

The funds would be credited by the Bank of Ceylon based on EPF records of employees.

Tourists guides would get a one-off payment that they would not pay back.

The full statement is reproduced below

Detailed list of relief measures given to the tourism industry stakeholders registered with SLTDA.

With the objective of sustaining the lives of approximately 144,000 persons directly involved in the tourism industry and linked to establishments registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, following relief measures have been proposed with implementation mechanisms.

1. Provide a loan at 4% to accommodation providers and destination management companies (DMCs) registered under SLTDA to pay salaries for approximately 124,000 employees through Bank of Ceylon (BOC) without collateral, under the Post COVID-19 Relief budget of the government.

The bank will directly remit salaries up to a maximum of Rs. 20,000/= per employee for six months based on the EPF/ ETF records supplied by the accommodation owners. SLTDA will provide details of all the accommodation providers and DMCs registered under the Authority.

2. A similar loan facility will be made available to pay salaries of approximately 10,000 employees of 850+ establishments providing facilities to tourists, registered under SLTDA including; Restaurants, Tourist Friendly Eating Places, Spa & Wellness Centers, Spice Gardens, Tourist Shops and Water Sports Centers.

The bank will directly remit salaries up to a maximum of Rs. 15,000/= per employee for a period of six months based on the EPF/ ETF records supplied by the owners of the establishments.

3. Eligibility and Conditions for No. 1 and 2.

– All entities falling under above categories registered with SLTDA or whose registration is being processed at the authority are eligible. (including foreign investments/owners)

– Entities who have paid TDL (Tourism Development Levy) will be given 1st preference.

– All loan disbursements will be to employers who have made employee EPF payments during 2019.

– All disbursements will be via Bank of Ceylon (BoC) and will be subjected to a corporate guarantee or personal or independent guarantor acceptable to Bank of Ceylon.

– Until the full repayment of the loan is done, the borrower is required to be registered with SLTDA. Failure to do so would be a breach of covenant.

– All loan disbursements will be remitted directly to employee bank accounts monthly.

– Registered entities who have availed the soft working capital loan during April, May and June 2020 will be eligible.

4. Repayment of 1 and 2.

The interest rate applicable is 4% per annum and this will be a Five (5) year loan with a two-year grace period from the date of disbursement.

5. Tour Guides and Tourist Drivers who are employed per tour basis and not entitled to EPF/ETF, SLTDA would provide one-off payments of Rs.20,000 to tour guides and Rs.15,000 to drivers registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

These payments would be directly remitted to their bank accounts by the Authority.

6. Instructions to be given to the Ceylon Electricity Board and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board to delay claiming dues from SLTDA registered accommodation providers for period from 1stMarch to 31stAugust 2020 and provide a 12-month instalment plan to settle the cumulative bills.

In the event Electricity and/or Water Bills have been paid during this period, an additional period of credit to be given; to ensure 12 months grace period in total.

7. The Central Bank to issue circular giving instructions to Banks and Financial Institutions to extend the six months grace period given for vehicles leased for tourism purposes to twelve months without considering the existing lease agreement and without default charges during the grace period.

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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