May 04, Colombo: Sri Lanka Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera says Sri Lanka will consider giving some tax amnesty to the tourism industry in a bid to help companies recover from the Easter Sunday terrorist attack that killed more than 250 people.
In an interview with Bloomberg at the 52nd annual general meeting of Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Fiji, the Minister said that serious consideration will be given to the requests made by the tourism industry in the aftermath of the attacks because tourism industry is a significant contributor to the country's economy.
He said that to start off with steps will be taken to implement a program to provide tax concessions to the hotel industry for example on imports of security equipment etc. and decisions will be taken quickly so the tourism industry can return to normalcy.
The Minister said Sri Lanka is studying similar attacks on other tourist places such as Bali and with the right kind of action, Sri Lanka tourism sector can bounce back to normalcy within a short period of time of about one and a half years.
Responding to a question, Minister Samaraweera said Sri Lanka will not be tapping into emergency finds of World Bank etc. "No, No. We are basically all right now," he said.
He said the biggest risk to the Sri Lankan economy is continuation of such attacks.
"Sri Lankan economy is moving slowly but soundly forward. As I said earlier, we do have a very sound, firm economy based on macroeconomic fundamentals and based on the rule of law good governance and democracy," he said.
The Minister said the terror network is contained "but terrorists need to be lucky only once". "But Sri Lanka is not the only victim in the world and now we are working hand in hand with a global network to ensure that these type of attacks by hideous terrorists don't happen again," headed.
Minister Samaraweera also held discussions on the sidelines of the ADB annual meeting with the President of ADB Takehiko Nakao on assistance to rebuild the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
During the meeting, the ADB President has expressed his condolences to the people of Sri Lanka and reaffirmed continued support to the island nation devastated by a series of suicide attacks on churches and luxury hotels on April 21.
ADB President has responded positively to the urgent request to assist private sector tourism industry, the Finance Minister said adding that discussions will start with the ADB to assist the private sector tourism industry by offering soft funding assistance to rebuild, based on sustainable tourism principles.
The Minister has also reconfirmed Sri Lanka's willingness to host 2021 Annual Meeting in Colombo.
Minister Samaraweera's interview with Bloomberg