Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has observed that the objective of the new law is to promote and regulate foreign exchange and to bring in foreign exchange belonging to Sri Lankans for the development of the country.
He was addressing the House commencing the second reading debate of the Foreign Exchange Bill. During his address, he said: "The objective of the new law is to promote and regulate foreign exchange. We have repealed the Foreign Exchange Act. The key feature of the new law is that the Central Bank as a Government agency is responsible for implementing the law. They manage foreign exchange, they need not control foreign exchange. The authorised dealers and restricted dealers authorised to deal foreign exchange will continue to be subjected to the provisions of the law. Every Commercial Bank continues as authorised dealers.
A citizen having foreign exchange or foreign asset may use it for current or capital transactions. Capital transactions will be defined by regulations. Certain classes of transactions will be free of control.
If someone has undeclared foreign exchange outside Sri Lanka, the Government can bring them in. It will play a major role in the country's development. Foreign exchange is not the luxury of a few rich people.
There are many Sri Lankans who have foreign exchange outside Sri Lanka. We need to bring them in. Our interest rates are higher than those in many countries that those monies are kept. We have given concession to Sri Lankan citizens to remit upto US$ one million with only a remittance fee of 1 percent.
We have excluded monies coming under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Conversion on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act, the Bribery Act. If the monetary board says there is a shortage of foreign exchange, the minister with the approval of the Cabinet can regulate or restrict the remittance of foreign exchange for six months, thereafter, another six month with the approval of the Cabinet."