Colombo trade, biz reps call for viable solution to revive economy | Daily News


Colombo trade, biz reps call for viable solution to revive economy

Request to grant a six month to one year moratorium for loans
Officials of CBA at the event Picture by Roshan Pitipane
Officials of CBA at the event Picture by Roshan Pitipane

The Colombo Business Association (CBA), called upon the government to come up speedily with a viable solution to revive the economy by supporting the business community that had been severely affected by the recent terror attacks in Colombo that brought all business activities in Colombo to a standstill.

CBA Secretary General Chaminda Vidyanagamage, addressing the media in Colombo yesterday, said the Association had written to the President, the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Central Bank Governor, highlighting key issues that have stifled business activities in the city. The letter comprises issues arising within businesses, between businessmen, enterprises, with banks and finance institutions, issues affecting tourism related establishments, foreign direct investments, inability of farmers to transport their produce to the city and issues pertaining to labourers, due to the prevailing security situation in the country.

‘Most shops in Colombo have suffered 100 percent loss since the Easter Sunday attacks that brought routine operations to a grinding halt. We request the authorities to grant a six month to one year moratorium for loans, leases and tax payments that would ease the burden of businessmen in the city and elsewhere, who are already saddled with debt,” Vidyanagamage said. Colombo Electrical Goods Association President Sugath Dammika, said businessmen who have already opened Letters of Credit to import bulbs and lamps from China for Vesak are in great difficulty due to the cancellation of all celebrations across the country due to security reasons.

“We appeal to the government to look into the plight of these businessmen and propose remedial measures to get over the issue,” he said.

CBA Chief Organizer G.M. Riyaz, said the unity that existed among all religions and races in the business community have been broken. Today, there is suspicion and mistrust towards Muslim businessmen which is a major hindrance to the smooth operations of businesses.

“Tourism related businesses are the most affected sector. Sri Lanka was ranked Top Country for Travel in 2019 by the Lonely Planet. We were excited about the recommendation and had plans to capitalize on it. All that ended up as a day dream,” CBA Vice President N. Karthik said, adding that the CBA does not see any seriousness and a united effort to address the issue.

Tourism industry officials speculate that tourist arrivals would drop by around 50 percent this year as a result of the recent explosions in Colombo.

Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera at a media briefing last week, said tourist arrivals would drop by around 30 percent, losing around US$ 1.5 billion in revenue to the country.

“What is sad is that none of the authorities speak about the impact of the attacks on the economy and what measures they intend taking to revive it. All political parties and civil society organizations and religious groups must come together to solve the crisis instead of passing the buck on each other,” the CBA members said.

“We hope we would be given an opportunity to discuss our issues where we intend to propose a task force to address issues affecting all businesses in the country,” CBA officials said.

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