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Sri Lanka Parliament instructs CBSL to come up with a plan to help entrepreneurs

ECONOMYNEXT-The Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance (CPF) has asked the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to come up with an innovative strategic plan for the betterment of local entrepreneurs and the general economy.

The Chairman of the committee Anura Pradharshana Yapa directed the officials of the CBSL to submit new development strategies to the CPF especially targeting local entrepreneurs when they met last week.

Yapa said that the Monetary Board should fulfil its responsibilities properly and that maintaining financial discipline is a fundamental factor for any country.

The Committee also said that the CBSL should not to act like the state or commercial banks that are pursuing profits and ratings.

These instructions were given when the bank officials said at the meeting that the CBSL has recently managed to maintain a large savings balance of USD 323 million by 19 February 2021 under a scheme to open a special deposit account in order to protect local cash reserves in the face of the COVID -19 pandemic situation.

The Committee pointed out that such good deposit schemes introduced by the CBSL should be publicized as this savings special deposit account earns an interest of 2-pct per annum interest which is beneficial to the country as well as Sri Lankans abroad.

State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake and MP Nalin Fernando also pointed out that the harsh criticism levelled at the government over the losses incurred due to the sugar tax revision measures has been a black mark on the government and did not benefit the consumers as expected.

The committee chairman said that the committee had not yet received the report called by the Public Finance Committee in this regard and that the Department of Import Control should be able to submit analytical comments with data on these gazette amendments.

The Committee approved the regulations issued on that day regarding the issuance of brown sugar licenses and recommended that a full explanation be given on March 09 with the participation of all relevant Ministries and Institutions.

The Committee approved two Extraordinary Gazette Notifications regarding the extension of the duration of two projects under the Strategic Development Act No. 14 of 2008 submitted by the Ministry of Finance. One such project is a 75-room city hotel located at No. 116, Galle Road, Colombo 3.

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State Minister Susil Premajayantha pointed out that the project had failed at the outset. Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Litro Gas and the Employees Provident Fund have spent about Rs 20 billion, of which Rs 4 billion has been spent on settlement payments to a Malaysian company.

The state minister said the hotel, which currently has only 16 floors, would cost at least another Rs 40 billion to use and could not be expected to be successful.

The Committee stated that the then management of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation was directly responsible for the 4–5 year delay in the construction of the Sinolanka Spa Hotel which caused this surplus cost.

The committee chairman pointed out that the Board of Investment (BOI) should have paid attention to this matter and requested that a feasibility study report on this hotel project be submitted to the Committee soon. (Colombo/March03/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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