In a recent announcement, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, the Governor of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank, projected that the nation is poised to draw in more than USD 13 billion in foreign receipts this year. A substantial driver of this growth is expected to be the influx of foreign remittances from Sri Lankan workers abroad, which is forecasted to surpass USD 10 billion by the end of the year. Dr. Weerasinghe noted that the country presently receives around USD 500 million each month in foreign remittances.
The Governor highlighted that the reopening of the tourism sector will also contribute significantly, with Sri Lanka projected to accrue approximately USD 2.3 billion in foreign receipts from tourism activities. Additionally, earnings from exports and other sectors are predicted to exceed the USD one billion threshold.
Dr. Weerasinghe emphasized that these combined factors are positioned to push the total foreign receipts beyond USD 13 billion this year. Furthermore, he outlined plans to augment the foreign reserves from their current USD 3.8 billion to approximately USD 10 billion in the foreseeable future.
Commenting on the country’s financial restructuring, the Governor indicated that Sri Lanka’s annual debt payments have been significantly reduced, from a previous USD 8 billion per year to around USD 4 billion, following debt restructuring efforts guided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He mentioned that the IMF had already approved an initial tranche of USD 330 million even before the restructuring process was initiated.
Dr. Weerasinghe assured that despite some areas still needing attention, Sri Lanka has made substantial progress toward fulfilling key obligations on the IMF agenda, which bodes well for the release of the second tranche during the IMF’s upcoming visit in September.
He also revealed that Sri Lanka has commenced debt repayments to bilateral donors, with USD 50 million already released to Bangladesh. To promote economic stability, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) will issue a new directive mandating a minimum 3% reduction in interest rates by banks. The CBSL Governor also stipulated that interest rates for pawn lending should be set at 18%, while credit card interest rates should be capped at 28%. Importantly, these rate adjustments will initially apply exclusively to banking institutions. On a positive note, non-performing loans, which had risen from approximately 11.3% to 13.5%, are gradually on the decline once more.