Reserve Bank of India signs $400 mn currency swap with Sri Lanka
July 26, 2020 09:06 pm
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has signed an agreement for extending a $400-million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka to boost the foreign reserves and ensure financial stability of the country.
The Indian High Commission in Colombo said the currency swap arrangement will remain available till November 2022. Sri Lanka in April said it was set to enter into an agreement with the RBI for a currency swap worth $400 million under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) framework. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had made an additional request to India for a special $1.1 billion currency swap facility in May.
“Reserve Bank of India signs document for $400 million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka till Nov 2022,” the Indian Mission tweeted. “After debt repayment rescheduling discussions yesterday, this development is another example of India’s strong commitment to work with #lka in post #COVID19SL economic recovery,” it said. While Sri Lanka’s forex reserves were at $ 6.7 billion in June 2020, India’s forex reserves were at a record high of $ 517.63 billion as on July 17.
In the swap arrangement, a country provides dollars to a foreign central bank, which, at the same time, provides the equivalent funds in its currency to the former, based on the market exchange rate at the time of the transaction. The parties agree to swap back these quantities of their two currencies at a specified date in the future, which could be the next day or even two years later, using the same exchange rate as in the first transaction. In Sri Lanka’s case, it’s more than two years.
The RBI also offers similar swap lines to central banks in the SAARC region within a total corpus of $2 billion. Under the framework for 2019-22, the RBI will continue to offer a swap arrangement within the overall corpus of $2 billion. Other countries can withdraw funds in the US dollar, the euro, or the Indian rupee. This facility originally came into operation on November 15, 2012 to provide a backstop line of funding for short-term foreign exchange liquidity requirements or balance of payment crises until longer term arrangements were made.
These swap operations carry no exchange rate or other market risks, as transaction terms are set in advance. The absence of an exchange rate risk is the major benefit of such a facility. This facility provides the country, which is getting the dollars, with the flexibility to use these reserves at any time in order to maintain an appropriate level of balance of payments or short-term liquidity.