Sri Lankan state banks are to enhance and mobilize more foreign remittances and promote Non Residential Foreign Currency Accounts (NRFC) on a directive issued by the Treasury through the Central Bank, official sources said.
The aim is to increase the much needed foreign exchange reserve in the country. These banks have been advised to increase the number of their representatives in the Middle East, Australia, Italy, France and Israel.
A senior official of the Finance Ministry said that Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera has emphasized the need to increase banking activities on a wider global platform and bring more foreign remittances to the country. According to the Treasury, the banks should educate Sri Lankan expatriates to avoid the Hawala remittance systems, the informal banking arrangements to send their money to the country.
State banks have been directed to provide incentives and conduct raffle draws countrywide to encourage Sri Lankan expatriates to open NRFC accounts.
Following this directive the Bank of Ceylon is to set up exchange centres in Canada, Malaysia, Japan, Switzerland, Cyprus and Singapore and expand their overseas staff strength to mobilize inward remittances enhancement and extend the ATM network.
The BOC is responsible for US$2 billion out of US$4 billion remitted to the country in 2011 while its NRFC deposits stood at $700 million.
BOC is the leader in treasury operations with over 50% of local foreign exchange market, P.A. Lionel, BOC Deputy General Manager (International, Treasury and investment) told the Business Times.
The Peoples Bank has introduced 'People's eRemittance', a web-based product supported by the latest technology to facilitate sending remittances to Sri Lanka within minutes.
Presently this service is available through Correspondent Agents/Exchange Companies in Australia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, a senior official of the bank said.