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The Central Bank import restrictions explained

9 September 2021 10:12 pm - 12     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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On Thursday, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka imposed import limitations on a list of extensive non-essential goods effective immediately. Following a meeting of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank held on Wednesday (September 8) a decision was reached to impose a 100 per cent cash margin deposit requirement against the imports of over 600 non-essential goods.

Effectively this means that Sri Lanka has now imposed a 100 per cent cash margin on traders who open Letters of Credit (LCs) for the importation of these listed items. (A margin deposit is the initial amount of money a trader requires to make as a payment in order to open a trading position.) According to the Monetary Board order, banks have also been restricted from issuing credit for importers who are unable to meet the 100 per cent margin. 

“Licensed Commercial Banks shall not grant any advances to their customers for the purpose of enabling such customers to meet the minimum cash margin deposit requirement imposed by this Order,” the Central Bank statement said. 

The new order comes in the backdrop a deepening foreign exchange crisis for Sri Lanka which has been a major worry for traders, while it has also indirectly caused domestic prices of goods to soar within a short period of time. 

Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves dropped to 2.8 billion USD by July this year from an earlier 7.5 billion USD in November 2019. With frequent liquidity injections (pumping money to the economy),  the Sri Lankan rupee lost at least 20 per cent of its value during this period, since the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government came into power in 2019. On Monday, the Sri Lankan rupee depreciated further against the US dollar, British pound and Indian rupee by more than 10 per cent. 

 

What does this mean for businesses?

One of the immediate issues resulting from this order would be the widening disparity between asset-rich businesses and small and medium businesses. Small and medium businesses often operate on credit offered through banks who serve as an intermediary in their business transactions. The inclusion of certain categories in this list such as telecommunication devices, clothing and accessories as well as cosmetics and toiletries will have a direct impact on entrepreneurship, especially for dozens of small businesses. 

Interestingly the Central Bank also issued the import volumes for each of the listed categories in 2019, 2020 and January to July 2021. Accordingly the import values for telecommunication items such as mobile telephones were 247.3 million USD  in 2019 and 268.4 USD in 2020.

Meanwhile clothing and accessory imports including baby garments, nightwear, footwear, underwear and watches amounted to 203.8 million USD in 2019 which dropped to 171.7 million USD in 2020 and 160 million USD in 2021. The items listed in these two categories such as mobile phones and underwear have raised questions among consumers, especially on social media, as they have been identified as goods which are non-essential and non-urgent. 

However, the Central Bank in a statement said that this decision is expected to support state efforts to preserve the stability of the exchange rate and foreign currency market liquidity. It added that the order is expected to particularly discourage excessive imports of a speculative nature. 

 

 

 

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 12

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

  • siripala Thursday, 09 September 2021 10:35 PM

    There is clearly No need for computers or undergarments! We stay at home and way things are going will be for the next two years

    Mahila Saturday, 11 September 2021 01:46 AM

    Hi Siripala, Good Morning You are absolutely right on the money on this matter. Why spend unwanted money in importing underwear from the west, for centuries and millenniums Sri Lankan societal culture has survived with the 'Amude', as espoused by Wijeyananda Dahanayake ex PM or 'Bunis Mama' in parliament in the 60's! That’s good enough to control the ‘Wild Cat’

    roni Friday, 10 September 2021 10:28 AM

    A Trader could obtain a commercial loan from Bank A and Transfer the funds to Bank B to be used as margin and proceed with the transaction from the second Bank which will effectively defeat the purpose.

    BUFFALO Friday, 10 September 2021 01:48 PM

    We thought there was an earlier order to completely ban all NON-Essential Imports, when vehicle tyres went out-of-stock and many vehicles were immobile. Did not know that that these restictions were relaxed at some point of time.

    Sunil Friday, 10 September 2021 02:47 PM

    Two most important questions that the general public is having: How will the availability of these goods and their prices be affected? Can anyone please clarify?

    Athula Friday, 10 September 2021 04:38 PM

    Its clear the government has reached to bankrupt level. They try to as much as possible limit foreign imports but the authorities do not think about the impact on the people who make a living with those Businesses. FAIL GOVERNMENT!

    Buddhist Saturday, 11 September 2021 03:11 AM

    Who will invest in SL when there is no $ to import raw material and even if import permit is granted have to pay a 100% margin for imports? Sri Lankan pipe dream!

    Gehan Saturday, 11 September 2021 11:06 AM

    IF, the Govt is serious about defending the value of the Rupee, it should set an example and stop any Govt Dept or Agency quoting charges for services in USDs. This way, any overseas visitor is forced to purchase Rs by exchanging their home currency to pay for services such as visa applications, hotel costs, trips out, safaris. The exchange rate can be set daily or weekly according CBSL set rate. This is a far more sensible approach than making citizens suffer for Govt folly!

    Cugan Saturday, 11 September 2021 08:32 PM

    Don't know why at Duty free ,restaurants etc at BIA we have to buy in $ not in.Rs either I don't understand the logic of it

    Imthiyaz MM Sunday, 12 September 2021 12:56 PM

    Api thamai hondatama karanne.

    Boku kata Tuesday, 14 September 2021 11:59 AM

    Who says that the Government has no money? Just ask Johnston?

    Harangi Thursday, 16 September 2021 10:38 AM

    Johnston has lot of $ money ! Gamanpilla has petrol ! And some other minister have paddy!! But all in database ..lol


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