By Chris Kamalendran
The government will allow private sector establishments, including supermarkets, leasing and finance companies, to deal in foreign exchange, a senior Central Bank official announced yesterday.
They will operate side by side with authorised money changers, Exchange Controller P.H.O.
Chandrawansa told the Sunday Times. The move is to ensure that sterling pounds, dollars and other foreign currency converted to rupees locally reach the Central Bank, he said. Sixty-one authorised money changers have been permitted to deal in foreign currency. However, they were not authorised to sell such currency, he added.
It was only weeks earlier that the Central Bank directed that surveillance cameras be mounted to focus on the counters of these authorised money changers. A control centre at the Central Bank was to monitor the receipts of foreign currency.
Some authorised money changers, who did not wish to be identified, complained that the measure had become a deterrent to customers coming to them with foreign currency for encashment. “They fear the Central Bank is monitoring them,” one of the authorised money changers said.
In a letter sent out two weeks back to the dealers they have been directed to instal CCTVs before August 31. Mr. Chandrawansa said investigations conducted by his division had revealed that some authorised money changers were selling their foreign currency instead of forwarding it to the Central Bank.
He said the intention of permitting reputed super markets, finance and leasing companies to engage in the trade was to ensure that proper records were maintained and the foreign currency eventually reached the Central Bank.
In recent months several attempts to smuggle currency out of the country have been foiled at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA). Last year foreign currency to the value of more than Rs. 250 million was detected at the BIA.
Authorized money changers are required to deposit US dollars 1.5 million a year with the Central Bank. In addition, all collections should be deposited within five days.