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Sri Lanka has asked to open a vostro account in Indian banks

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India’s rupee trade settlement mechanism, a means of using rupees instead of dollars and other big currencies for international transactions, is attracting interest from more countries.

Tajikistan, Cuba, Luxembourg and Sudan have begun talking to India about using the mechanism, according to two sources and an official document reviewed by Reuters.

It has already been used by Russia following the imposition of sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine war.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set up the mechanism in July. The Government is looking to bring countries that are short of dollars into the mechanism, said a Government official and an industry source aware of the development. The sources declined to be named, as the matter is confidential.

The four countries have shown interest in opening special rupee accounts, called vostro accounts, but partner banks in India have not yet provided those facilities, documents showed. Opening of these accounts needs approval from the Reserve Bank of India.

Mauritius and Sri Lanka have also shown interest, and have seen their special vostro accounts approved by the RBI, documents showed.

India’s Central Bank (CB) has given approval to banks to open 12 vostro accounts for trade in rupees with Russia, according to the document.

Six other accounts, including five for trade with Sri Lanka and one for trade with Mauritius have been authorised, the same document showed.

Queries sent to the federal finance ministry, commerce ministry and RBI remained unanswered.

India continues to discuss denomination of trade in rupees with larger trading partners, including key oil suppliers Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Details of potential rupee-dirham trade mechanism are being firmed up by the central banks of India and UAE, a second Government official said, requesting anonymity.

Talks with Saudi Arabia on a rupee-riyal trade mechanism also continue, the government official added. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are talking through ways to invest Indian rupees they earn as part of these transactions, as the gulf nation’s exports to India exceed imports from it.

“We have presented the option of investing additional rupees in Indian markets,” the official said. As part of the rules issued earlier this year, the Indian central bank has allowed for any rupee holdings to be invested in government securities.

Source –  Reuters

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Fire breaks out in workers’ living quarters near Colombo Port

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A fire has reportedly broken out in the living quarters of highway access road workers near the Colombo Port.

The Colombo Fire Brigade said it has dispatched four fire trucks to assist in extinguishing the flames.

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President Wickremesinghe meets Elon Musk to discuss starlink implementation in Sri Lanka

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has met with billionaire and investor Elon Musk on the sidelines of the 10th World Water Forum High-Level Meeting being held in Indonesia.

During the meeting, Wickremesinghe and Musk discussed the implementation of ‘Starlink’ in Sri Lanka.

It was emphasized that Sri Lanka is committed to expediting the application process to connect the country to the global Starlink network, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD).

Minister Jeevan Thondaman, accompanying the President on his two-day visit to Indonesia, tweeted: “President and Elon discussed Sri Lanka’s recovery, economic potential, and new opportunities for investment. Great to have two visionary leaders come together for Sri Lanka.”

Elon Musk arrived in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on Sunday to launch Starlink satellite internet service in the world’s largest archipelago nation.

The billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX, and owner of social platform X, arrived by private jet on the idyllic “island of the gods,” renowned for its tropical beaches, terraced rice paddies, mystical temples, and colorful spiritual offerings.

Musk is slated to launch the service alongside Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a ceremony later Sunday at a public health clinic in Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali. 

Musk will also sign an agreement to enhance connectivity in the country’s health and education sectors.

During his first in-person visit to Bali, Musk is also scheduled to participate in the 10th World Water Forum, which seeks to address global water and sanitation challenges.

–With agencies inputs

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Senior diplomat to oversee Sri Lankan embassy in Russia

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It is reported that the government has planned to send a senior officer of the foreign service to the Sri Lankan embassy in Russia until a new ambassador is appointed due to the lack of an ambassador.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Taraka Balasuriya has told the media that the absence of an ambassador is just a gap in the work procedure, and based on the current situation in Russia, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be directed to supervise its affairs.

He emphasized that a retired foreign service senior is being sent and the lack of an ambassador is not a major problem.

The Minister further stated that there is already a senior Foreign Service officer there, and given the urgent need, a very senior Foreign Service officer is being sent not because the officer currently in Russia is inadequate.

Mr. Balasuriya has stressed that this is being done to strengthen the operation and that the work will be done according to the normal protocol.

However, even though an ambassador has been appointed to Russia, Mr. Balasuriya has made arrangements not to reveal who it is to the media.

The former Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation, Prof. Janitha A. Liyanage, was given three extensions, and she ended her service at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Moscow on April 29.

At present, Counsellor Ruvini K. Munidasa serves as the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy.

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