Sri Lanka extends SME debt moratorium deadline to Feb. 10

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Central Bank (CB) has decided to extend the deadline for of the debt moratorium and new credit program for the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) sector until February 10, Central Bank said.

Central Bank Deputy Governor H.A. Karunaratne at the monthly monetary review briefing yesterday announced that the January 31 deadline would be extended to February 10.

He said the deadline was extended from January 31 and a fresh circular will be issued soon on this.

The Deputy Governor noted that the SME loans make up maximum 10-12 percent of the Rs. 8 trillion total credit extended and the impact of the debt moratorium would be minimal.

“Total advances for the banking sector would be Rs.8 trillion and the maximum possible SME exposure would be around 10-12 percent of that. According to our understanding in the past, all those exposures were not materialized. Only one third of those people have requested. Therefore, we do not see a huge exposure coming from this sector,” he said.

The current administration announced the debt moratorium for SMEs as a set of economic stimulus measures. SMEs in the manufacturing, services, agriculture and construction sectors with an annual turnover of Rs. 16 – Rs.750 million and outstanding loans of up to Rs. 300 million are eligible to apply for a moratorium on their principal repayments, with a grace period up to a year.

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