“BBC World Service Journalist Chandana Keerthi Bandara’ s application for an interest-free motor vehicle loan has not been rejected, the Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information Charitha Herath told Colombo Telegraph. Herath added that Bandara, like others, is on a waiting list.
He made above statement when asked why two BBC journalists were treated differently. BBC Sinhala Service Colombo reporter Elmo Fernando was granted the loan last week.
The loan scheme is part of a proposal made by the President in the 2012 Budget to implement a relief loan scheme for senior journalists, artists and authors to purchase motor vehicles and to form a fund for their welfare.
According to the Ministry of Fianance and Planning website, Senior Journalists, Artists and Authors are now able to obtain a maximum amount of Rs. 1,200,000/- as an interest free loan from the state banks to purchase cars or vans. If the value of the vehicle exceeds the limit of Rs. 1,200,000/- the balance can be obtained from the relevant state bank under normal interest rates. The Treasury will grant the interest due to the state banks for the interest free loan amount of Rs.1,200,000/-.
According to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information website the objective of the loan scheme is to recognise the services rendered by media personnel towards national development and to enhance their productivity and quality of service.
Applicants will be interviewed by a selection committee appointed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information. The decision of the Secretary on the selection and eligibility will be final and conclusive.
Last week Chandana Keerthi Bandara was critised by the Sinhala weekly Divaina for applying for this loan. The report said the Londoner came to Sri Lanka before the President started the loan award ceremony. The Colombo Telegraph has been unable to reach Chandana Keerthi Bandara for comment.
Meanwhile London based Tamil Guardian reported the event as “the perks of being a journalist in Sri Lanka”
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