SMEs seek support for next critical months | Daily News


SMEs seek support for next critical months

The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASMET) is hopeful that the President and the government of Sri Lanka will act in favor of supporting SME’s through the next few critical months and ensure the long-term viability of this key income earning sector for Sri Lanka, ASMET said in a press release.

“This assistance will ensure that when this crisis passes, we can expect the strong return of Sri Lanka tourism,” it said.

The release further said, “ASMET would first and foremost like to the President for his decisive actions in curbing the spread of the COVID 19 infection in Sri Lanka. The need to protect the people of Sri Lanka during these dire times is paramount and we offer our full support to the government and people of Sri Lanka.

Understandably the actions taken to limit the spread of the disease including travel bans, partial airport closure, closure of all sites of national importance and curfew have led to a complete standstill in tourism. As small and medium stakeholders in the industry we have been seriously adversely affected by these actions and have growing concerns over our ability to stay viable for the duration of and after this national crisis.

We are thankful to the President for announcing the relief package including moratoriums for existing loans and leases as well as working capital loans at a reduced 4% interest. We would kindly request the Central Bank to issue a circular to all banks to honor and execute the direction.

The SME sector in tourism is responsible for thousands of jobs across the island and valuable foreign exchange. This sector was in recovery from the Easter Sunday attacks and is currently attempting to withstand the impact of this second disaster of global proportions.

The SME sector in tourism is shutting down rapidly in the wake of COVID 19 with job losses and default payments in rent and utilities imminent. We need to curtail the flow of payments to be made to bank and state institutions for mortgages, utilities etc. and protect continued payments that will sustain families dependent on tourism including staff of SMEs, freelance tour guides and chauffer guides by financially supporting them for a period of 6 months. We appeal to the government to consider the issuance of a grant to this sector to meet these needs. Any and all assistance to the SME sector will ensure that businesses can be sustained and assistance will trickle down to the affected families and they will be able to face this crisis.”

The association thanked the President, the tri-forces, the police and health care workers on the fore front of fighting this COVID 19 crisis.

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