June 11, Colombo: The cabinet of Ministers has approved a host of measures to provide relief to 144,117 employees in the tourism sector affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Industrial Export, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Aviation on the instructions of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday presented the proposal for the relief package to the cabinet.
Accordingly, Cabinet approval has been given to issue loans at 4 percent interest for the payment of salaries to the employees of the tourist hotels, Destination Management Companies and Travel Agents registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) by March, 2019, up to Rs. 20,000 each for six months.
The loan granted by state banks based on ETF/EPF records has a grace period of two years for repayment and should be paid off in five years.
Cabinet approval has been given to grant a loan of Rs. 15,000 per month for six months to an employee of a restaurant, tourist friendly dining establishment, fitness centers and spas registered under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
In addition, the Cabinet has approved the issuance of Rs. 20,000 per person for SLTDA registered tourist guides and Rs 15,000 for registered tourist drivers. Those allowances are given only once. Those allowances are given only once.
Cabinet approval has also been granted to allow the registered tourist hotels to settle their water and electricity bills for the period between March 1, 2020 and August 31 in 12 installments after September 1. The Ceylon Electricity Board and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board have been instructed not to disconnect their services until such time.
Cabinet approval has also been granted to increase the concession period to pay the tourism related rental taxes from six months to 12 months.
The Minister said under the relief scheme, Rs. 15,883 million is required to provide a loan to pay six months salary to 131,497 hotel and restaurant employees.
The Minister said Rs. 156 million is needed to pay the one-time only allowances of Rs. 20,000 and Rs 15,000 for 9,216 guides and drivers respectively.
Minister Ranatunga said that the relief package was prepared following the requests made during a discussion held with various stakeholders in the tourism sector last week.
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