Take up moratorium violations with leasing companies: Central Bank 

  • Says will look into issues only if companies don’t solve them
  • Confirms receiving few complaints on moratorium violation

By Imesh Ranasinghe

As customers demand investigations into leasing companies that reportedly violate directions issued to them by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) pertaining to the leasing moratoriums and concessions introduced to curb the effects of the pandemic, the CBSL said it has not received many complaints.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, an official of the CBSL said that even though they have received many complaints about other issues, only a few complaints have been lodged with the CBSL over concerns by the people who are eligible for the moratorium, and even these complaints have to be taken up with respective financial institutions. 

The customers can make a complaint to the Financial Consumer Relations Department of the CBSL if the matter is not solved by the relevant financial institution. In which case, the CBSL will intervene and try to solve the issue.

Furthermore, an industry spokesman said they have granted a moratorium to people who are eligible for it in the tourism and transport sectors and also in rural communities.

He added that 50-60 customers in their customer base are currently enjoying the moratorium based on the CBSL circular.

On 17 August, the National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection (NMCRP) requested the CBSL to take immediate action against leasing companies violating the CBSL’s circulars relating to the debt moratorium.

“It is the working class people who buy vehicles through a leasing company. We have been feeding these companies and paying their salaries all these years. The companies are ignoring the circulars issued by the CBSL and we are, therefore, demanding that the CBSL immediately investigate the matter,” NMCRP President Ranjith Withanage told The Morning Business on 17 August.

Also, Inter Company Employees’ Union (ICEU) President Wasantha Samarasinghe, speaking at a press conference earlier this month, said that a number of trade unions affiliated with the tourism industry also face the same problem. Despite the moratorium applying to the tourism industry, people are still being asked to pay their interest.

The Monetary Board of the CBSL issued a circular on 15 May 2021 stating that banks other financial institutions should not collect instalments on loans and vehicle leases from businesses and individuals who are affected by Covid-19 pandemic, until 31 August 2021.

The Morning Business reported on 16 August that the debt moratorium on capital and interest for the tourism industry would be extended to 31 December 2021.

Moveover, Circular No. 6 of 2021 issued by the CBSL on 9 June, requested licensed finance companies and specialised leasing companies to extend concessions to Covid-19-affected businesses and individuals upon request.