The cabinet met today with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the chair has given the green light to offer a range of relief measures aimed in particular at Samurdhi beneficiary and low income families, self-employed and those live on daily wages, cabinet spokesman, Higher Education, Information, Communication Technology and New Inventions Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.
“The relief package is meant to ease the burden created by the COVID 19 endemic, especially on tourism, apparel and garment industry, plantation sector, fisheries and industrial sector, non executive level employees of the public and state sector, whereas most of the employees are living on a monthly paid jobs, self-employment or daily paid jobs,” Minister Gunawardana told the weekly cabinet news briefing this morning.
Accordingly, the cabinet has decided to suspend monthly installments payable for loans and lease repayments with interests obtained by small and middle-scale entrepreneurs from banks, finance companies and other government registered financial institutions for six months. The government expects that this decision would help three wheeler owners, school van owners, small transport lorry owners, van and bus owners who live on earnings derived from these investments, effective from March 24, Minister Gunawardana added.
The cabinet also has suspended the deduction of monthly installments of loans from non executive employees of the private and state sector from their March, April and May salaries and also payment of monthly installments from loans obtained up to Rs. One million by private and public servants by non executive employees from Central Bank approved financial institutions.
The interest payable by Credit Card users has been cut to half to 15% from 30% and the realizing date of the post-dated cheques has been extended by additional 30 days. The benefits to the farming community under ‘Agrahara Insurance Scheme’ have been doubled.
“The government has put in place a comprehensive food distribution plan covering the entire island to provide essential commodities to the public under the Task Force monitored by former Minister Basil Rajapaksa,” Minister Gunawardana said.
In response to a journalist, Minister Gunawardana said almost all party leaders who met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday expressed their satisfaction over the government's action taken to control the viral infection and added the government would take all proposals and ideas tabled by party leaders such as Sajith Premadasa, Karu Jayasuriya, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Anura Kumara Dissanayaka and Rauf Hakeem.(Sandun A. Jayasekera)