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International borrowing made easier

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Firms can now remit internationally borrowed funds from either the Inward Investment Account or through an External Commercial Borrowing Account or a Business Foreign Currency Account. The accounts shall facilitate the repayment of interest and repatriation of proceeds.

Director Foreign Exchange Dr A. A. I. N. Wickramasinghe noted that the recent changes were implemented with the intention of creating the best environment for business. She noted that over the long term the country was taking concrete steps to the liberalization of foreign exchange transactions. She said, “We are shifting from a controlling regime to a facilitating regime.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a New Order under Section 22 of the Foreign Exchange Act, a company resident in Sri Lanka will be limited from financing international investments through local borrowing. Companies may only invest up to US$ 20,000 for working capital or marketing expenses. The migration allowance for Sri Lankans migrating abroad will be capped at US$ 30,000 temporarily. Outward investments exceeding these limits will require either financing to be obtained from abroad or be part of meeting an international regulatory requirement. The rules are expected to be operational from July 2nd.

These items were discussed at a Ceylon Chamber of Commerce webinar held on 30 June to discuss the Revision of Foreign Exchange Regulations. There is expected to be no changes to transfers for the purposes of foreign education. Concerns were raised that with the implementation of the Foreign Exchange Act there were new laws applicable to BOI companies that were previously exempt. Sri Lankan corporates will be allowed to issue corporate guarantees to foreign subsidiaries contingent on the level of the guarantee being proportionate to the ownership stake of the business. Parent companies may obtain foreign borrowing which they may lend within their own corporate entities. Migration allowances will be subject to a tax. Transactions between two resident entities unless allowed for by law shall continue to be maintained in LKR.

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