Sri Lanka turns to mystery investor in bid to defend rupee
Posted on January 11th, 2016

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

An unidentified investor has promised to park $1 billion in dollar deposits in Sri Lanka to help the island nation defend its currency, the finance minister told Reuters, in an unusual move that highlights the country’s precarious finances

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake declined to reveal the identity of the investor. But he said the investor was Belgian and was working with a Sri Lankan partner.

The investor has promised to transfer the money in two equal tranches from banks in Brussels and Luxembourg, the minister said.

“Instead of going for bonds and other borrowing, we are permitting it to take place,” Karunanayake said.

“This is better than negative returns in Europe”, for investors, he said.

The deposits, which pay an interest rate of 2 percent, are part of the ministry’s plans to raise $3 billion to $4 billion to shore up reserves and defend the rupee, which has hovered around record lows since the central bank floated it on Sept. 4.

Sri Lanka has run up a large budget deficit, forcing the government to borrow heavily and putting pressure on the rupee.

It is now also battling a growing balance-of-payments crisis.

Remittances from expatriate workers, worth about $5.8 billion in the first 10 months of last year, are expected to dry up because of the political turmoil in the Middle East.

Foreign reserves, which stood at $7.3 billion on Dec. 31, are under pressure as $5 billion is expected to be repaid on foreign loans in 2016, according to central bank data.

Financial experts said bringing in so much money from an individual investor was fraught with risks. Karunanayake has already liberalised dollar remittances from foreigners into the country. “This allows room for money-laundering. Black money could easily come through this,” said Sirimal Abeyratne, an economics professor at the University of Colombo. –

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2 Responses to “Sri Lanka turns to mystery investor in bid to defend rupee”

  1. Kumari Says:

    Ranil and Ravi are opening the door for the Tiger funds collected abroad. If our banks are under political pressure, aren’t the Belgian banks checking where this money got collected?

    Probably these must be part of the regime change funds.

  2. Nimal Says:

    If our leaders are interested in exporting our goods, encouraging tourists then we must keep the rupee down but buy getting foreign funds may boost the rupee to the advantage of politicians doing projects with fat commissions and remitting the money abroad.

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