An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday February 27th, 2024

Sri Lanka urges private firms to borrow offshore; free forex cover from central bank

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s central bank has urged private companies to borrow abroad and is also offering free foreign exchange cover through a zero-cost swap, in a bid to boost forex inflows to the country.

“The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), with a view of encouraging foreign currency inflows to the country, invites the private sector to pursue avenues to raise offshore funding leveraging on its strengths,” the monetary authority said.

“In this regard, to hedge the foreign exchange risk of offshore borrowing, a zero cost swap facility would be made available by CBSL for the private sector borrowers of foreign currency for the duration of the said borrowing, which may be reviewed and renewed annually.”

Companies that could borrow abroad could also invest in Sri Lanka Development Bond, government securities which are already denominated in US dollars.

If companies have to pledge assets to non-residents and issue corporate guarantees to overseas loans, a written application should be made to the Director, Department of Foreign Exchange.

Sri Lanka has cut taxes and injected large volumes of money into the banking system to finance an expanding deficit and also to keep interest rates down.

Sri Lanka’s swap rates had turned negative (are at a discount) due to money printing with domestic dollar yields outpacing rupee yields.

Under so-called modern monetary theory, operated with a soft-peg Sri Lanka printed enough money to run a 2.3 billion US dollar balance of payments deficit in 2020.

The full statement is reproduced below:

Communications Department
07 June 2021
Measures to Encourage Offshore Borrowings by Private Sector

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), with a view of encouraging foreign currency inflows to the country, invites the private sector to pursue avenues to raise offshore funding leveraging on its strengths, with the consent of the Hon. Minister of Finance and in line with provisions of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017 (FEA).

In this regard, to hedge the foreign exchange risk of offshore borrowing, a zero cost swap facility would be made available by CBSL for the private sector borrowers of foreign currency for the duration of the said borrowing, which may be reviewed and renewed annually.

Alternatively, the private sector could invest the US dollar funds raised offshore in Sri Lanka Development Bonds (SLDBs) matching the tenure of the offshore borrowing, in line with the Weighted Average Fixed Rate/ Weighted Average Margin determined at the immediately preceding SLDB auctions, or at levels mutually agreed through Designated Agents (DAs) appointed to market SLDBs.

In terms of the general permission granted under the Regulations made under the FEA, companies incorporated in Sri Lanka under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007 are permitted to obtain loans/issue debt instruments from/to non-residents in compliance with the procedures introduced under such Regulations.

In the event, companies incorporated in Sri Lanka wish to pledge local assets and issue corporate guarantees to secure loans to be obtained from overseas, such requirements may be accommodated as a special permission under the provisions of the FEA upon a written application made to the Director, Department of Foreign Exchange.

Further, the private sector entities who borrow from abroad may sub-lend such funds to their subsidiaries in Sri Lanka, subject to terms and conditions specified in the Order issued under Section 4 (2) (c ) of the FEA published in the Government Gazette (Extraordinary) Notification No. 2229/5 dated 25 May 2021.

Any corporate entity interested on the above may access all relevant Regulations and Orders published in the Government Gazette (Extraordinary) Notifications via www.dfe.lk/downloads. In addition, they may contact their banker or the Department of Foreign Exchange for further information with regard to the existing foreign exchange regulations.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka parliamentary committee says electricity tariffs should be reduced by 20 pct

ECONOMYNEXT — A parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis has recommended to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) that electricity tariffs be reduced by at least 20 percent.

A statement from parliament said on Monday February 26 that, following an analytical review of the figures presented by the Electricity Board, Public Utilities Commission, etc. and taking into consideration all other factors affecting the price of electricity, including considering the opinion given by experts that the existing electricity price can be reduced by about 33%, price of electricity should be reduced by at least 20% in the year 2024 so that the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will not suffer any loss.

PUCSL officials have informed the Committee that by the end of this month, they can submit the necessary recommendations to reduce the electricity bill, according to the statement.

The matter was taken up for discussion when the committee, chaired by MP Gamini Waleboda, met in the Parliament on February 22.

Officials from the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Public Utilities Commission, Industry Development Board, Enterprise Development Authority, Department of Population and Statistics, Department of Inland Revenue and from government institutions including the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Industries Board and a group of industrialists had also been called for the meeting.

“The Committee gave several directives to the relevant institutions and officials to identify the micro, small and medium scale industries that are directly affected by the economic crisis and to activate the local economy and increase the foreign exchange earnings by reviving the industry sector.

“The Committee pointed out that due to the increase in electricity bills, the number of electricity connection cuts reported across the island has exceeded one million. It was also emphasised that in order to alleviate the pressure on the industry and the society, it should be arranged to provide electricity connections again by charging only 50 percent of the outstanding charges at the initial stage with the concessional basis of payment of outstanding electricity charges on installment basis,” the statement said.

The committee was also of the view to allow the customer to pay the connection fee in installments so as to avoid discouraging new entrepreneurs to start micro, small and financial industries due to high charges for getting fixed electricity connection and instructed to review the new connection fee and work to reduce it as much as possible.

The committee chair has instructed the PUCSL to conduct an audit on the electricity consumption in the public sector as an approach to ensure energy security.

“The Committee recommended to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank to start a loan scheme at subsidised interest for the purchase of solar panel systems with a view to promoting solar energy as a source of energy supply to industries. The Ministry of Finance expressed its agreement to provide refinancing facilities subject to a maximum as per the proposal made by the Committee to implement a loan scheme targeting micro, small and medium scale industrialists under subsidized interest rates.

The committee has also recommended that raw materials that must be imported from abroad and impose tax concessions on such raw materials be identified to ensure the supply of raw materials required for the smooth running of micro, small and medium scale industries. Copper, lead, aluminum and other industrial scraps used as raw materials in various domestic industries currently being sold by the CEB to external buyers and other entities should also be issued to micro, small and medium scale industrialists recommended by the Ministry of Industry and the Industrial Development Board, the committee has recommended.

The definition used by the Department of Population and Statistics for micro, small and medium industries and the definition used by other institutions such as the Industrial Development Board and the Central Bank for those industries are different from each other, which is an obstacle in making policy decisions, the committee had noted, directing the Department of Population and Statistics to support to the policymakers by releasing statistical data based on a common definition.

“The committee also recommended that the Credit Information Bureau should take prompt action to remove their credit information from the blacklists so as to facilitate access to credit facilities for micro, small and medium scale industries facing financial crisis to activate their balance sheets and to review all existing laws and procedures for registration of micro, small and medium scale industries as well as to obtain licenses and introduce a simple system.

“The committee informed all the parties to establish a steering Committee headed by the Ministry of Industry to implement the recommendations given by the Committee and to report its progress within a week,” the statement said. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka sets up fund to help children of Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is mandated to provide education, health, relief and social services, and emergency assistance to refugees. (Pic courtesy UNWRA)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers have approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to set up a fund to help children caught in the war in Gaza, a statement said.

The government will contribute a million US dollars and use funds allocated by state agencies for Ifthar celebrations.

Public contributions are also called.

The Presidential Secretariat is requesting public donations citizens for the “Children of Gaza Fund” to be contributed to account number 7040016 at Bank of Ceylon (7010), Taprobane Branch (747) by 11th April.

Deposit receipts should to be forwarded to 0779730396 via WhatsApp. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

Continue Reading

Top US official calls for inclusive reforms, deeper defence ties with Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma in discussions with Sri Lanka officials had called for inclusive reforms and stronger human rights and also discussed deeper defence and maritime cooperation.

The United States remains committed to the economic growth and prosperity of Sri Lanka, statement from the US Embassy in Colombo quoted the official as telling government, civil society and economic leaders during his February 23-24 visit to Sri Lanka.

“Verma met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to discuss progress on Sri Lanka’s IMF program, including inclusive economic and governance reforms aimed at keeping Sri Lanka on the path to sustainable economic growth.  Deputy Secretary Verma stressed the vital need to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. They also explored opportunities to deepen defence and maritime cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka, including strengthening the Sri Lanka Navy’s capabilities to safeguard national security and promote a more stable Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said.

 On February 23, aboard the SLNS Vijayabahu, one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters transferred by the United States to Sri Lanka, Deputy Secretary Verma said: “I am pleased to announce that the Department of State has notified Congress of our intent to transfer a fourth medium endurance cutter to Sri Lanka.  The Department obligated $9 million in Foreign Military Financing to support this effort.  We look forward to offering the cutter, pending the completion of Congress’ notification period.  If completed, this transfer would further strengthen defense cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka.  The ship would increase Sri Lanka’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone, monitor its search and rescue area, and provide additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.” 

 Participating in the announcement at Colombo Port were Sri Lanka State Minister of Defense Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, who remarked, according to the statement: “The United States has previously transferred three cutters to the Sri Lankan Navy, which deploys these ships for maritime operations and law enforcement missions, countering human trafficking and drug trafficking, while supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts. The eventual transfer of a fourth vessel would be just one more point in a long history of cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.” 

Verma also visited the site of the West Container Terminal (WCT), a deepwater shipping container terminal in the Port of Colombo. The WCT, currently being constructed by Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT) Private Limited with 553 million US dollars in financing from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, will provide critical infrastructure for the South Asian region, the embassy said.

“Operating near capacity since 2021, the Port of Colombo’s new addition will be the port’s deepest terminal and aims to boost Colombo’s shipping capacity, expanding its role as a premiere logistics hub connecting major routes and markets, boosting prosperity for Sri Lanka without adding to its sovereign debt,” it said. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

Continue Reading