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Importers, exporters scapegoated for shortage of foreign currency

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lankan importers and exporters are blamed for the mismatch in cash flows into the country even though the problem is due to successive governments having borrowed heavily from international lenders beyond their means without any sustainable strategy to repay those loans, says an expert.

At a virtual press briefing held by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka yesterday, Deputy Governor Dhammika Nanayakkara responding to a question on the shortage of foreign currency liquidity in the market said: “On the one hand, importers are looking to frontload their imports assuming the rupee will depreciate and their import costs will go up. They borrow rupees and purchase dollars from the market and try to hoard goods. On the other hand, exporters are holding on to their dollar balances without converting them into rupees thinking they can sell them at a higher value and make a gain when the dollar appreciates. But the export proceed conversion rule which came into effect on May 28, requires exporters to convert 25 percent of repatriated proceeds with possible exemptions up to 10 percent for specific export sectors or industries or individual exporters based on their import input requirements.”.

“Another tactic the commercial banks are adopting is when there is a lot of demand to open letters of credit (LCs) for imports, the banks ponder over the real necessity to import such goods and act on it. That is why a particular bank would ask importers to come and open their LC on another day or Bank A would ask a prospective importer to go to Bank B for this purpose. However, so far this has not affected the import of essential or intermediary goods, the Bank said.

Central Bank Governor Prof. W. D Lakshman said: “We have introduced measures to rationalise selected non- essential imports. We have proposed to the government to put strict regulations to curb the import of non-essential goods and this is still at discussion level. Some proposals we make to the government are accepted and some are not.” He said this responding to a question whether household electric goods and items which are identified by some sections as luxury goods would also come under the import ban anytime soon.

Central Bank’s Director of Economic Research Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara referred to the rule of mandatory conversion of 10% of workers remittances to rupees by banks on a weekly basis as another measure to add to build up the foreign exchange reserves.

Speaking to the media on July 5, State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal said both exporters and importers were willing to cooperate with the government to find a solution to the foreign exchange liquidity issue, as it would be beneficial for all stakeholder in the long term.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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