Sri Lanka announces relief measures as country battles with COVID19

Mar 24, 2020 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s government has announced a number of relief measures to people undergoing various hardships due to the prevailing situation brought on by the Coronavirus.

Accordingly, the President has directed the Governor of Central Bank, the secretaries of all ministries, chief secretaries of all provincial councils and the heads of all banks, financial institutions, and leasing companies to take the appropriate steps accordingly.

On the orders of the President, the Secretary to the President directed all relevant officials to implement these decisions with immediate effect.

These relief measures are as following:

  1. To extend until 30 April, 2020 all payments on income and VAT taxes, driving license renewal fees; all bills on water and electricity, assessment taxes, and bank cheques valued less than Rs 15,000; and repayment of all credit cards below the limit Rs. 50,000.
  2. A six-month moratorium on the leasing loan installments of all three-wheelers.
  3. A moratorium on loan installments until 30 May 2020 from salaries of all public and private (except the board of directors) sector employees.
  4. A three-month moratorium on all personal bank and leasing loan installments of value less than Rs. 1 million.
  5. The March trainee allowance of Rs 20,000 of all graduates selected for employment will be deposited into their respective bank accounts.
  6. To double the Agrahara Insurance benefits for all health, police, civil defense and all government servants engaged in controlling the spread of the COVID19.
  7. A six-month debit moratorium on tourism, garment, and small & medium industries and for Central Bank of Sri Lanka to re-evaluate the finances.
  8. Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Employee Provident Fund, Employee’s Trust Fund to jointly invest in the treasury bonds and bills to stabilize the money market at 7% interest rate.
  9. A 15% interest rate of credit cards for domestic transactions of value up to Rs. 50,000.00 and the minimum monthly charge to be reduced by 50%.
  10. All bank branches to provide their full services to customers when the curfew is not in effect.
  11. Sri Lanka Ports, Customs and other related institutions to release without any interruption to relevant entities food and essentials such as fertilizers, medicines, and fuel.
  12. To Provide interest-free loans of Rs. 10,000 to Samurdhi recipients and Samurdhi cardholders through all Samurdhi Bank Associations.
  13. To exempt Lanka Sathosa and Co-operative shops from VAT and other local taxes and charges.
  14. Samurdhi Authority to issue title certificates to Samurdhi and low-income families immediately for issuing nutritional food items to low-income families. They should be provided with rice, lentils, onions and food cards on a weekly basis.
  15. From the President’s Fund, a special bank account has been opened at the Bank of Ceylon for tasks related to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus and for providing the necessary healthcare and relief measures. For this purpose, Rs. 100 million had been deposited from the President’s Fund. Tax and foreign exchange control restrictions have been lifted for all local and foreign donors who wish to contribute to this fund.
  16. USD 5 million to be contributed to the SAARC CORVID-19 Emergency Fund.