New rules to convert will have multiple benefits for the country – CBSL
Sri Lanka has embarked on a focused path towards ensuring macro-economic and financial system stability, having faced strong headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic resulted in a substantial loss of foreign exchange revenues to the country, but unprecedented support provided by the Government and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), from fiscal, monetary and public health aspects, has helped a strong rebound of the economy as well as a considerable recovery in some foreign exchange earning sectors. The tourism sector is also expected to display a notable recovery in the period ahead, and concerted efforts are taken to improve worker remittance inflows through formal channels. Recent tensions in the forex market have also highlighted the need for Sri Lanka to increase its reliance on foreign exchange earnings over time to strengthen the economy, rather than increasing its foreign borrowings which exposes the economy to various types of shocks.
In this context, in February 2021, the CBSL issued Rules under the provisions of the Monetary Law Act to reinforce the prevailing repatriation requirement on proceeds of merchandise exports and ensure the conversion of a given share of such proceeds within a specific period of time. These Rules that had been based on similar rules of neighbouring countries, had been fine-tuned from time to time upon requests made by the business community, while those have also helped to ease foreign exchange liquidity issues faced by the domestic market to some extent, with a gradual improvement in repatriation and conversion of export proceeds. In addition, with mandatory sales of export proceeds converted under the aforesaid Rules by licensed banks, the CBSL has been able to purchase a reasonable quantum of forex from the market thus far during the year, which the CBSL 2 has utilised to part-finance the import of essential commodities to the country during the past few weeks.
Under the new Rules issued on 28October 2021, the minimum mandatory conversion rate of 25 percent has been relaxed, and instead, exporters have provided with the opportunity to utilise export proceeds for:
a) outward remittances in respect of current transactions;
b) withdrawal in foreign currency notes, as permitted;
c) debt servicing expenses and repayment of foreign currency loans;
d) purchases of goods and obtaining services including one-month commitments; and
e) payments in respect of making investments in Sri Lanka Development Bonds (SLDBs) in foreign currency up to ten per cent of the export proceeds, so received.
The residual after the utilisation of export proceeds as above will have to be converted into Sri Lanka Rupees. This method, followed by several other countries, ensures that exports with a large import content are not penalised, while enabling exports with a higher domestic value addition to convert a greater percentage of proceeds, after meeting foreign currency financial obligations of such enterprises.
In addition, considering the importance of the growing services export sector and the concessions provided to such sectors over time to expand their activities by the Government, the Rules have been extended to services exports as well. This coverage has been defined in the Rules as payments received in foreign exchange by a person resident in Sri Lanka for services (including professional, vocational, occupational, or business services) provided to a person resident outside Sri Lanka. Accordingly, remittances by Sri Lankan expatriates, which are not considered as services exports, will not be subjected to these Rules.
The implementation of the new Rules, which treat merchandise exports and services exports equally, is expected to provide greater foreign currency liquidity to the domestic market, ensuring the availability of foreign exchange for essential payments at a reasonable exchange rate by Sri Lankans, including the purchase of imported goods, overseas 3 education, foreign travel and health expenses, etc. In addition, the Rules will enable the identification of the true “value addition” of each export sector of the economy, through the different ratios of conversion as reported by banks.
Exporters enjoy various tax concessions and other advantages provided by the Government in recognition of the net foreign exchange inflow to the country through their operations, and in consideration of the benefits accruing to the country when such proceeds are converted into Sri Lanka Rupees. Realisation of these anticipated outcomes will therefore enable the Government to continue the provision of concessions to such sectors. Full repatriation of foreign exchange earnings and improved conversion will also help ensure the stability of the exchange rate and support the stability of the macro-economy and the financial system.
Women led LPO services firm Velox Partners enters new office space in Colombo
Velox Partners, a tech-based legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm, expanded its presence into Colombo to augment its existing law firm. Velox commenced operations in January 2020 prior to the onset of the pandemic. Today, it has expanded its services across numerous verticals Commercial law, Litigation, Conveyancing and Company Secretarial Services, with Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) Services being the core. It is geared as a fully-fledged legal service provider servicing clients across United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Southeast Asia.
Velox is female-led with over 90% being women comprising versatile and experienced lawyers. Their expertise bridges multiple disciplines of law with a local and global clientele. The two powerhouses leading the firm are its founding partners Lihini Fernando and Dakshika Perera whose collective experience spans over three decades.
Velox Partners saw Covid-19 restrictions and remote working as an opportunity to position the firm as a tech-based entity and launched its LPO arm. Providing back office legal services to law firms across continents was seen as a viable business model that is both functional and lucrative. Furthermore, the partners of Velox realized the potential of positioning Sri Lanka as a LPO Hub, where the LPO sector enables foreign remittance to the island nation to rebuild its economy. This also provided an opportunity particularly as LPO services can be offered remotely, without a physical office presence.
Velox has serviced clients in over 14 jurisdictions worldwide providing solutions on the ethos, ‘Beyond Legal’. Velox believes in combining business efficiency and tech enabled processes to differentiate itself from the conventional law firms.
Lawyers at Velox are solution providers guided by industry expertise. The team comprises professionals based in Australia, the United States of America, Singapore, and Sri Lanka which enables them to draw cross country perspectives in providing services. Velox is now poised to use their multiple years of experience across continents to provide smart legal solutions.
Estonian TV crew gets a taste of Sri Lanka for the first time
Sri Lanka Tourism, under its Scandinavian market promotions hosted a Media FAM with 4 Media personnel from Kanal2 TV from Estonia. The tour started off on February 28 and ended on March 8. The purpose of hosting this tour was to receive more high-end tourist arrivals from Estonia, as well as the other Scandinavian markets including Lithuania and Latvia.
Subsequently, this tour was hosted in collaboration with the Sri Lanka embassy in Sweden which contributed to make this tour a success. The FAM Tour covered all the main tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, including wild life, Ayurveda, Boutique hotels, and also cultural attractions.
All these attractions were filmed and the destination will be promoted on air via Kanal2 TV, through the TV show ‘’ Kaugele Siit’’ (far from here). The first episode of this programme is scheduled to be telecast for 45 minutes. This travel programme has 420,000 followers as their audience. Kanal2 TV was also the official Media partner for the Winter Olympics 2018, a Sri Lanka Tourism press release said.
The release adds: ‘The visitors were quite impressed with the 8-day tour which they had, enjoying every moment of their tour. They were equally mesmerized with the warm hospitality which they received from the Sri Lankans, which they are mostly renowned for. They enjoyed the traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, and the variety of dishes which they tasted. Nevertheless, they had the opportunity of exploring every attraction of the paradise island to convey the message to their fellow Estonians, that Sri Lanka is a unique travel destination which has everything in store for the enthusiastic traveler.
‘They also had a cooking demonstration by courtesy of Siddhalepa Ayurveda Resorts & Spas Wadduwa, and also a Yoga treat at the same venue. Visiting the Turtle Hatchery at Kosgoda , the Elephant orphanage at Pinnawala, going through a safari at Eco park was also another amazing experience which they had during their stay.’
The Academy of International Business signs Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Pacific
Academy of International Business Sri Lanka (AIB) held its second graduation at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall with over fifty graduates successfully passing out. At the recent graduation, the business academy signed its MOU with the University of the Pacific.
The signing of the MOU is a major milestone for the business academy. The courses offered are DBA, MBA, and BBA top-up programs through AIB. Prof Liam, Rector – of the University of Pacific, expressed confidence that the program delivered by AIB will be very beneficial.
The event was graced by passed graduates, teachers, and lecturers, the ceremony was hosted by the chief guest and the regional director of ABE(UK) Dr Praveen Mahendran. “The ABE(UK) is one of the long-standing professional awarding bodies from the UK and AIB is proud to be associated with ABE and approved by the awarding body.
Hard work, competency and capability are the values that produce results, through the AIB and its programs these are achievable. Every student is encouraged to show their full potential”.
The distinguished guests were the Vice President of the BNI Pioneer Chapter, Dilan Fonseka. He emphasized, the importance of students gaining experience in entrepreneurial skills and business development by enrolling at BNI. AIB is a member of BNI, which creates multiple opportunities.
About the Academy of International Business: AIB is recognized for its management programs, digital marketing, marketing, and English language programs such as IELTS, and PTE. It’s widely popular among students in search of pursuing business and management courses.The Director of AIB Sri Lanka, Chrishankar Janathanan, expressed the institute’s commitment to providing the best quality education. It’s not only a center that is simply cornered to the education sector but also has focused its efforts on recruitment services and digital agency services.
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