External sector performance – September 2020
Sri Lanka’s external sector recovered further in September 2020, supported by the continued improvement in the trade deficit, a notable increase in workers’ remittances and the resultant stability in the domestic foreign exchange market.
The trade deficit improved in September 2020, compared to a year earlier, with a more than expected rebound in merchandise exports and a reduction in merchandise imports during the month. In September 2020, workers’ remittances, recorded the highest year-on-year growth since end 2011. In the financial account, the government securities market recorded a marginal foreign investment inflow during the month, while the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded outflows. Net inflows to the domestic foreign exchange market eased the pressure on the exchange rate and enabled the Central Bank to absorb foreign exchange, on a net basis, to build up gross official reserves. Reflecting these developments, the Sri Lankan rupee appreciated during the month of September 2020.
A deficit of US dollars 525 million was recorded in the trade account in September 2020, which was significantly lower than the deficit of US dollars 757 million recorded in September 2019. The improvement in the trade deficit during the month was due to lower level of imports and higher level of exports in September 2020, compared to September 2019.
The cumulative deficit in the trade account from January to September 2020 narrowed to US dollars 4,337 million from the deficit of US dollars 5,612 million recorded in the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile, terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, deteriorated by 1.1 per cent in September 2020, compared to September 2019, due to export prices declining at a higher pace than the decline in import prices.
Exhibiting the resilience of the export sector in the midst of the current global market conditions and its V-shaped recovery since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, earnings from merchandise exports in September 2020 increased, both on a year-on-year basis as well as on a month-on-month basis. Merchandise exports of US dollars 1,000 million in September 2020 were higher by 4.8 per cent than the exports of US dollars 954 million in September 2019. This was also 5.6 per cent higher than the exports of US dollars 947 million recorded in August 2020. The increase in exports of most agricultural goods and some industrial product categories, which surpassed the decline in other industrial exports and mineral exports, contributed to the overall increase in exports.
Export earnings from agricultural goods increased by 10.4 per cent in September 2020 on a year-on-year basis, led by coconut exports (both kernel and non-kernel), spices (mainly cinnamon), tea, minor agricultural products (mainly betel leaves) and seafood. Increased earnings from tea exports (3.3 per cent) were supported by higher prices (6.3 per cent), as export volumes declined (2.8 per cent).
BOI launches long term residence visa programme for investors
The Board of Investment (BOI) recently launched the five-year residence visa program dedicated to investors, stakeholders and BOI enterprises.Issuing long-term visas for investors has been the practice as per the international standards. On par with matching the international benchmark in respect of ease of doing business, the BOI has decided to launch this program to attract more investors to the country.
The long-term visa program, a long-felt need, primarily aims to facilitate the investors who wish to embark on a journey with the BOI.The BOI annually issues 7500-8000 visa recommendations for investors, employees and dependents.The BOI has granted visas for foreign nationals from 109 countries such as India, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan which represent the most applicants based on last year’s statistics.
Addressing the gathering, Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera said “The happiness on the faces of those investors present at the occasion, implies that the newly launched visa residence scheme is a success,”
“Before the implementation of this program, they had to go through a long documentation process every year to get these visas,” he pointed out.
“Having understood the prime need to provide a seamless and convenient service for investors, we have launched the new program albeit I have not officially assumed duties as the Investment Promotion Minister,” Perera highlighted.
BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone stated “It is certainly a pleasure to see all our long-standing investors on this special day of launching the long-term residence visa program for investors.
“You all have been the contributors towards 65% of export earnings to Sri Lanka and have stood by us even in times of difficult periods that our country faced, which we wish to acknowledge with great gratitude,” she underscored.
Dialog Enterprise introduces Dialog SmartLife App for Three Sinha roller doors
The Three Sinha Group, a leading roller door company in Sri Lanka, has teamed up with Dialog Enterprise, the corporate ICT solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, to launch a smart roller door controlled via the Dialog SmartLife App. This app enables users to control and access roller door services conveniently from their smartphones. Customers who use Three Sinha roller doors simply need to download the Dialog SmartLife App on Apple App Store and Google Play Store on their smartphone to operate the roller doors from anywhere.
“This is another important step in that process, and we are pleased to partner Dialog Enterprise to provide customers with a future-fit solution. I invite our customers to become a part of this experience”, said Manjula Ariyakumara, the Managing Director of Three Sinha Group of Companies. “As expounded by our brand ethos ‘The Future.Today’, Dialog is continuously seeking avenues of incorporating communication technology into many service areas and product offerings. In line with this vision, we are delighted to partner Three Sinha, a leading Roller Door company in Sri Lanka”, stated Navin Pieris, Group Chief Officer – Dialog Enterprise of Dialog Axiata PLC
People’s Bank commemorates its 61st anniversary
People’s Bank, held a modest ceremony to on 1st July to commemorate their 61st anniversary at the bank’s Head Office in Colombo 02. Chairman of the People’s Bank Sujeewa Rajapakse and CEO/General Manager Ranjith Kodituwakku addressed the staff at this event.
In addition, Religious programs were organized by the Buddhist Association, Hindu Association, Muslim Majlis and the Christians Guild of the People’s Bank to invoke blessings on the country, the people, the customers and the pioneering leaders who have contributed to establish the People’s Bank.
Accordingly, a Pirith chanting was held at the Head Office which was followed by an alms giving at Sambodhi Viharaya in Fort with the patronage of Chief Incumbent Most Ven. Professor Iththademaliye Indhasara Thero. Hindu pooja was conducted by Sri Nivasa Kurukkal, Bambalapitiya, Islamic Service conducted by Deshabandu Al Haj Faisal Hassan mowlavi at Dawatagaha Jumma mosque in Colombo and the holy mass was conducted by Rev. Father Anton Rohitha at St. Philip Mary’s church in Pettah.People’s Bank Corporate and Executive Management, bank staffs and retired employees were also present at the occasion.
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