The Central Bank said yesterday that the Balance of Payments (BOP) surplus in the first seven months is estimated to be 2.015 billion as against a deficit of $ 180 million a year earlier.
The estimate was disclosed in the release of July external trade data yesterday. ‘The improved BOP position strengthened the international reserves and stabilized the exchange rate further,’ the Central Bank said.
It said as at end July 2014, Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves amounted to $ 9 billion, while the same is estimated to have increased to $ 9.2 billion end August.
Total foreign assets, which include foreign assets of the banking sector, amounted to $ 10.5 billion at end July 2014. Gross official reserves were equivalent to 5.9 months of imports, while total foreign assets were equivalent to 6.9 months of imports.
A health level of reserves was maintained amidst foreign exchange outflows on account of debt service payments amounting to $ 1,478 million and repayment of the IMF-SBA of $433 million during the first seven months of the year.
The Central Bank said long term loan inflows to the government amounted to $ 1,100.3 million during the first seven months of the year compared to $ 1,050.5 million during the same period of 2013.
Net inflows to the government securities market stood at $ 231.8 million by end July 2014, which included Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds amounting to $ 81.7 million and $ 150.1 million respectively. Foreign investments in the Colombo Stock Exchange up to end July 2014 recorded a net inflow of $ 84.3 million.
Foreign Direct Investments, including loans to BOI companies, amounted to $ 850 million during the first half of 2014 recording a growth of 54.8% from $549.1 million in the first half of 2013. Meanwhile, inflows to licensed commercial banks and licensed specialized banks amounted to # 125 million during the first seven months of 2014.
Commenting on the exchange rate behavior, the Central Bank said the Rupee remained stable against the US dollar during the period up to 15 September, with a marginal appreciation of 0.36%.
Based on cross currency exchange rate movements, the Sri Lankan Rupee appreciated against the Eurp by 685%, the Canadian dollar by 4.54%, the Chinese Renminbi by 1.65%, Japanese Yen by 2.57% and the Sterling Pound by 1.87%. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Rupee depreciated against the Indian Rupee by 1.69% and the Australian dollar by 0.60%.