As the moratorium extended to the hard-hit tourism sector came to an end yesterday, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) requested trade associations to initiate one-to-one discussions with financial institutions for possible extension of the moratorium.
The SLTDA, in a notice to all trade associations, said it will be writing to respective banks on behalf of those who had sought intervention as a follow-up measure. The Tourism Ministry will present matters to the Cabinet seeking further intervention, it said.
The moratorium was offered to the tourism sector after the 2019 Easter Sunday attack for a period of six months, which was then extended three times due to the difficulties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a proposal made by the Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, on a request made by trade associations,
Cabinet approval was given earlier this month to extend the moratorium. However, the decision has not been implemented as yet. The officials of Sri Lanka Tourism and trade associations met with Central Bank Governor to expedite the extension. However, the Governor had conveyed his inability to intervene and instruct financial institutions to extend the moratorium.
The Governor was of the opinion that it is a matter to be decided by the respective financial institutions and opined that the Central Bank will refrain from direct intervention or influencing the individual decisions of banks and finance companies, the SLTDA highlighted in its notice.
A meeting was then held with 39 banks and finance companies, chaired by the Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and Lands, which did not bring in the expected outcome for the struggling sector. The SLTDA shared that all financial institutions were of the firm view that they could not agree to an extension of the moratorium as requested.