Tourism gets a shot in the arm
Bangladesh Bank yesterday declared a new stimulus package worth Tk 1,000 crore for hotels, motels and theme parks suffering for the ongoing business slowdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Owners of hotels and theme parks having trade licences will be able to get loans from the scheme in the form of working capital at a 4 per cent interest rate.
Banks, however, will enjoy an 8 per cent interest rate as the government will provide the remaining 4 per cent as subsidy, according to a central bank notice.
The loans will have to be used to provide salaries of employees.
The repayment tenure is a maximum of one year, said officials of the central bank.
The fund will be treated as a refinance scheme as the central bank will provide 50 per cent of every loan from the package.
Businesses of the sector which had earlier taken loans from other stimulus schemes of the BB will not be allowed to avail loans under this new scheme.
Excluding the latest one, the government has so far declared 23 stimulus packages worth Tk 128,440 crore.
Of the funds, the BB has set a target to disburse around Tk 97,000 crore from banking sources.
Owners of hotels and theme parks will have to take loans from banks with which they already maintain accounts to run business, said the central bank.
The BB's latest offer comes in line with a finance ministry decision, said the central bank officials.
The country's hotels and theme parks had been facing a severe crisis since March last year, when the deadly virus arrived on the shores of the country, said Saif Ahmed, president of the Bangladesh Hotel and Guest House Owners Association.
The businesses have been dealt another blow due to the recent hike in infections.
"We have been compelled to close hotels and theme parks for the majority of the ongoing pandemic," he said.
Many hotels have been going through a crisis regarding paying salaries to employees, he said.
Against this backdrop, the association has been repeatedly requesting the government to roll out a dedicated stimulus package.
"We made the request to the government last year soon after the pandemic hit the country," Ahmed said.
"This package will beyond a doubt help us survive," he said, adding that some 300 hotels and motels were members of the organisation.