Aug 25, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Central Bank says that a comprehensive overseas campaign to provide an accurate account of the Sri Lankan political and economic environment to the United States is needed in order to counter the extraordinary and vicious campaigns carried out by sections of the Tamil Diaspora in the US.
Responding to a recent report by Sunday Times on the Bank's recent hiring of the Liberty International Group LLC, a lobbying firm in the U.S., at an annual fee of Rs. 99 million (approximately US$ 760,000) for a year, the Central Bank said in a statement that to carry out such a campaign effectively and successfully in the U.S., the normal practices in the U.S. have to be followed, based upon proper advice and effective interventions.
The Bank in a statement today said since the end of the conflict in May 2009, it has observed with "deep concern", that well-organized and well-funded sections by certain members of the Tamil Diaspora and the local and international media, have been trying to convey inaccurate stories which are detrimental to Sri Lanka.
If allowed to continue unchecked and unchallenged, these stories could affect the image of the country and the economy, the Bank stressed.
While noting that since the end of the conflict, many investments have flown into the country, based upon the benign conditions as well as robust economic growth that has been experienced since then, the Central Bank said however, some of the Tamil Diaspora and the media yet continue their efforts to discourage foreign investments into Sri Lanka.
"It was in that context, that the Monetary Board decided to implement a comprehensive overseas campaign to provide an accurate account of the Sri Lankan political and economic environment to US leaders, think tanks, investors, business chambers and interested citizens to keep them abreast of the true situation in the country."
The Bank said similar awareness efforts are carried out by a large number of countries and global organizations in the U.S.
In justifying the cost of hiring the lobbying firms in the U.S. the Central Bank pointed out that the Sri Lankan economy has grown in stature and character in the international sphere, with exports of around US$ 11 billion and imports of about US$ 18 billion while foreign investments in sovereign bonds and governments securities exceeded US$ 6 billion.
Further the foreign reserves reached over US$ 9 billion, FDIs at around US$ 2 billion and foreign stock market portfolio holdings at about US$ 8 billion, the Bank pointed out.
"In that background, investing a modest sum to create awareness in the world's largest economy would undoubtedly benefit the Sri Lankan economy," the Central Bank explained.
The Central Bank said its efforts have complemented and supported the activities of the Ministry of External Affairs which has also been implementing many programs to counter the "extraordinary and vicious campaigns" carried out by sections of the Tamil Diaspora in the U.S.