Sri Lanka Com Bank starts lending from tax savings fund

The bank has signed an agreement to lend 1.5 billion rupees to the state-run Road Development Authority (RDA) from its Investment Fund Account (IFA), a statement said.

The funds are to be used in a two and a half year project to improve a 21.5 km stretch of the A6 highway between Dambulla and Habarana in the north-central region under the government’s infrastructure development programme, the bank said.

The project contractor, International Construction Consortium, is also a key client of the bank.

Under the government’s 2011 budget presented in November last year, all banking and financial institutions were required to create separate Investment Fund Accounts to transfer savings arising from tax cuts proposed in the budget.

In its 2011 budget the government reduced Value-Added Tax on financial services to 12 percent from 20 percent and reduced tax on profits of banking and financial institutions to 28 percent from 35 percent.

The Central Bank and the Department of Inland Revenue issued specific regulations requiring banks to adopt low interest rates and longer term maturity for lending the funds to designated areas, including infrastructure development, vocational training, agriculture and IT related activities.

“The bank will provide a loan of 1.5 billion rupees to the RDA payable over 14 ½ years in the first-ever disbursement from the IFA scheme proposed in the national budget of November last year,” the statement said.

The bank did not reveal the interest rate at which it is lending the money to the RDA.

“The loan will be disbursed in stages as the project progresses, and will be the first of several to be disbursed from the Commercial Bank’s IFA for projects designated to be accommodated under the Fund,” the statement said.

“We are proud to be the first bank to respond to the government’s proposal to ensure that tax savings are used efficiently and productively in the national economy at a stage of accelerated development,” Commercial Bank Managing Director Amitha Gooneratne said.

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