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Sunday March 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka trains more teachers for IT subjects

New Capital Computer Plaza, Sham Shiu Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong 香港九龍深水埗元州街85-95號新高登

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is on track to train 700 new IT teachers with the support of UNICEF as part of government plans to revise the syllabus and add more technology subjects to tertiary education, a statement by the information department said.

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka is currently facing a talent drain with more industry experts leaving the country due to the high living costs that is expected to worsen with the government proposed tax hikes that will be implemented from January 2023 onwards.

“There are approximately 20,000 IT job openings in the public and private sectors,” the statement quoting State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath said.

It is the Ministry of Technology’s responsibility to mobilise young people required for this industry and, as such, information technology will be introduced as an A Level subject in the arts stream, he added.

IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic, with more international firms moving their operations to Sri Lanka, according to the statement.

The state miniser added that the syllabus of National Vocational Qualifications have already been revised to meet industry demands and currently around 50,000 people are directly involved in the IT field.

“Another 34,000 youths will be directed to the field in 2023 through the implementation of Lighting Digital IT training boot camps at the district level,” the statement said.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also be added to the syllabus of Grade 10 students from 2023 onwards, and education authorities are in talks with Microsoft to obtain the company’s assistance in implementing AI education.

AI is part of reforms that will also see Wellness and Sustainability added to school syllabi.

The Asian Development Bank will provide a grant of 1.4 billion rupees to help move towards class assessment from the current exam-heavy system, the education ministry said in a separate statement. (Colombo/Dec 21/2022)

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Sri Lanka seeks to settle India ACU debt, credit lines over 5-years

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has requested India to settle payments due to the country under the Asian Clearing Union mechanism and credit lines given in 2022 over 5 years, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, an advisor the island’s government said.

Sri Lanka is negotiating with India to settle the money over a 5-year period, Coomaraswamy, a former central bank governor told an online forum hosted by the Central Bank.

“Our request from the Indians is to settle it over five years,” he said. “That I think is still in the early stages of negotiation. The same with the one billion line of credit.”

Sri Lanka’s central bank owed the ACU 2.0 billion US dollars to the Asian Clearing Union according to a year end debt statement, issued by the Finance Ministry.

Sri Lanka owned India, 1,621 million dollars according to ACU data by year end, excluding interest.

India has given a 1 billion US dollar credit line to Sri Lanka as well a credit line for petroleum.

Sri Lanka in March 2024 has paid 121 million US dollar out of a 331 million US dollar IMF tranche to settle an Indian credit line.

Indian credits were given after the country defaulted in April 2022 as budget support/import when most other bilateral lenders halted giving money. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices up 1.16-pct

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s coconut auction prices went up by 1.16 percent from a week ago at an auction on Thursday, data showed.

The average price for 1,000 nuts grew to 83,219.45 from 82,260.58 a week earlier at the weekly auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority on March 23.

The highest price was 92,500 rupees for 1,000 nuts up from the previous week’s 90,600 rupees, while the lowest was 76,500 also up from 70,000 rupees.

The auction offered 900,010 coconuts and 583,291 nuts were sold. (Colombo/Mar 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka in talks for billion dollar equivalent Indian rupee swap

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in talks with India for a billion US dollar equivalent Indian rupee central bank swap, to facilitate trade, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, ad advisor to the government said.

“The amount is still uncertain it could be up to the equivalent of a billion US dollars,” Coomaraswamy told an online forum hosted by Sri Lanka’s central bank.

The money will be used to facilate India Sri Lanka trade, he said.

India has been trying to popularize the use of Indian rupees for external trade and also encouraged Sri Lanka banks to set up Indian rupee VOSTRO accounts.

However the first step in popularizing a currency for external trade is to get domestic agents, especially exporters, to accept their own currency for trade, like in the case of the US or EU, analysts say.

India’s billion US dollar credit to Sri Lanka given during the 2022 crisis is settled in Indian rupees (transaction need).

However the Indian government itself has chosen to denominate it in US currency for debt purposes (future value).

In most South Asian nations, receivers of remittances are willing to accept domestic currencies, leading to active VOSTRO account transactions.

Sri Lanka is expected to repay a 400 million US dollar swap with the Reserve Bank of India next year under an International Monetary Fund backed program for external stability and debt re-structuring.

Central bank swap proceeds sold to banks, which are then sterilized with inflationary open market operations, can trigger forex shortages and currency crises, analysts warn.

Sri Lanka went to the International Monetary Fund after two years of inflationary monetary operations by the central bank’s issue department (money printed to suppress interest rates) triggered the biggest currency crisis in its history and external sovereign default.

Sri Lanka had gone to the IMF 16 times with similar external troubles except for the April 2003 extended fund facility under Central Bank Governor A S Jayewardene which was a purely reform-oriented program with the World Bank (PRGF/PRSP) program at a time when he was collecting reserves with deflationary monetary policy and perhaps the lowest inflation since the Bretton Woods collapsed. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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