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Lanka receives another 20 railway passenger coaches from India

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A railway passenger coach being unloaded from a ship at the Colombo Port.

SriLanka has received another 20 state-of-the-art railway passenger coaches from India as part of the supply of 160 coaches to the Sri Lankan Railways by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), which is being financed through an Indian Line of Credit.”In line with India’s continuing commitment to assist Sri Lanka in the development of its railway infrastructure, a consignment of 20 railway passenger coaches supplied by Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) Ltd, reached Colombo Port on September 17, 2021,” Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a press release.

It said: This consignment is a part of the contract to supply 160 passenger coaches to Sri Lanka Railways, funded under an Indian Line of Credit of USD 318 million. The value of this contract is USD 82.6 million.With this consignment, a total of 60 coaches out of 160 have been supplied to Sri Lanka and 20 more coaches are ready to be shipped from India. The first lot of passenger coaches had arrived in Sri Lanka in March 2021, following which requisite trials were conducted.

These ‘India-made’ modern passenger coaches have been custom made and built as per the requirements of Sri Lanka Railways. Under the Line of Credit of USD 318 million, RITES Ltd is also scheduled to supply two AC diesel multiple units (DMU) to Sri Lanka Railways. The first AC DMU set (13 coaches) is ready for shipment from India and is waiting for nomination of a ship by Sri Lanka.

Other projects under this line include Up-gradation of the Railway Line from Maho to Omanthai (128 kms), Maho-Anuradhapura Signaling project, Double Tracking of Railway Line from Polgahawela to Kurunegala, etc.

It may be noted that RITES Ltd has previously supplied 6six DMUs (contract completed in October 2019) and 10 Diesel Locomotives Railways (contract completed in June 2020) to Sri Lanka, funded under a separate Line of Credit. India’s overall development assistance to Sri Lanka is close to USD 3.5 billion. This includes projects/initiatives under Lines of Credit as well as grant. Development of railway infrastructure in Sri Lanka is a sector of special focus, in line with the priorities of the Government and people of Sri Lanka.In this connection, reconstruction of railway lines (268 Kms), installation of signal and telecommunication systems (330 Kms), and upgrading of coastal railway line (118 KM) have already been completed. Various other projects are at different stages of implementation.



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Central Bank looking at proposal to permit dollar-paid vehicle imports

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Duty too must be paid in hard currency

The central bank is looking at a proposal to allow persons who can pay in foreign exchange to import vehicles and pay taxes in hard currency, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said last week.

He said that this was a proposal made by certain parties whom he did not identify making clear it was at a proposal stage with no decision taken. But it was under examination.

Asked whether Non-Resident Foreign Currency (NRFC) account holders – now called Personal Foreign Currency Accounts – would be permitted to use their resources to import a vehicle provided they would pay the applicable duty in hard currency, he said that he did not see why not.

“If the vehicle is paid for in hard currency and not converted rupees, and the duty also accrues to the government in hard currency, I don’t see any harm, in fact it would be good,” he said.

It would also mean that there’s are new vehicles coming into the country not paid for by rupees converted into hard currency plus a hard currency duty stream, an analyst said.

Banning vehicle imports on account of the present foreign exchange crunch has cost the government an immense revenue stream.

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Forex pressure eases – CB

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The Central Bank says that pressure caused by shortage of foreign exchange is easing gradually towards better.

“Earnings from exports marked a notable improvement and recorded over US dollars 1 billion for the third consecutive month in August 2021. Expenditure on imports has also increased, partly reflecting the surge in global commodity prices, resulting in an expansion in the trade deficit during the eight months ending August 2021, over the corresponding period of last year. Outlook for tourism improved with the easing of travel restrictions globally and the successful vaccination drive domestically. Despite the moderation of workers’ remittances observed in recent months, a rebound is expected in the period ahead with the improved growth outlook for major foreign employment source countries and greater stability in the domestic foreign exchange market. The realisation of foreign investments in the real sector and the timely adoption of remedial measures by the Central Bank as enunciated in ‘The Six-month Road Map for Ensuring Macroeconomic and Financial System Stability’ are gradually easing pressures in the domestic foreign exchange market,” the Central Bank says.

The CBSL said that it continued to intervene in the foreign exchange market to provide liquidity for essential imports, including fuel. The depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar is recorded at 6.8 per cent thus far in 2021.

It said that the gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 2.6 billion by end September 2021. This, however, does not include the bilateral currency swap facility with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) of CNY 10 billion (equivalent to approximately US dollars 1.5 billion). Gross official reserves are expected to improve with the measures that are being pursued by the Government and the Central Bank to attract fresh foreign exchange inflows, as outlined in the Six-month Road Map, thereby reinforcing the stability of the external sector in the period ahead.

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Samarasinha to promote ‘Commercial Diplomacy” among German states

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Nihal S. Samarasinha has been appointed as Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka for three Federal States in Germany, which includes Hessen, Rheinland Palatinate and Saarland.

He would be mainly promoting commecial diplomacy in the three states.

He presented his credentials to State Minister Axel Wintermeyer along with 18 other Consuls General and Honorary Consuls at the official State Residence Villa of the Minister President of Hessen.

Samarasinha, born in Sri Lanka and migrated to Germany in 1972 is the Chairman and Managing Director of Millennium Hospitality Advisory Company providing advisory services and managing and operating hotels of several international hotel brands based in Frankfurt am Main. He is an alumni of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, and graduated from the Heidelberg Hotel School, Germany, American Hotel and Motel Association, Michigan USA; Holiday Inn University, Atlanta USA and from the Ramada International University, New York.

His focus in Finance throughout his career made him a proven financial expert with vast analytical skills.

 Samarasinha has held senior management positions in organisations such as Holiday Inn WorldWide (Europe) as Director of Finance; Canadian Pacific Hotels – Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) as Regional Comptroller and Ramada International Hotels and Resorts as Vice-President of Finance and Internal Audit for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), India and Sri Lanka. He has been engaged in the hospitality industry since 1972 with remarkable success.

Over the years Samarasinha has developed strong bonds with Sri Lankans in all parts of Germany and had assisted them in numerous ways long before he was first appointed Honorary Consul for the Federal state of Rheinland Palatinate in 2010.

He is a co-founder of the Diplomatic Council in Frankfurt along with the former Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Frankfurt Buddhi Athauda, The Diplomatic Council acted as a springboard to promote Sri Lanka Tourism, Trade and Culture in an environment of commercial diplomacy.

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