Concerns have been raised over discrepancies between the official exchange rates quoted by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and other commercial banks in the country, the 'Lanka Truth' website reported.

According to the Central Bank, the USD/LKR spot buy rate was quoted at LKR 190.20 with the sell rate at LKR 195.21 as at 11.00 am yesterday (21).

However, the exchange rates quoted by several commercial banks are as follows:

HSBC 190.43 - 203.75
National Development Bank 193.09 - 202.51
Bank of Ceylon 194.25 - 203.78
Hatton National Bank - 197.50 - 202.50
People's Bank 195.72 - 204.55
Commercial Bank 195.10 - 202.50
Sampath Bank 193.93 - 203.00
CBSL - 190.29 - 195.21


The exchange rates offered by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the only foreign bank out of the banks listed above, recorded a huge gap between with the spot buy rate quoted at 190.43 and the sell rate quoted at 203.75.

However, it is clear that there is a huge difference between the exchange rates quoted by the CBSL and other commercial banks. As such, allegations have been raised against the CBSL of trying to tweak the exchange rates to mislead the public.


CBSL Under pressure from a high ranking official?

During our investigation into the sharp rise and fall of the exchange rate over the past few days, it was reported that a powerful senior official in the Presidential Secretariat had recently summoned a group of senior CBSL officials and instructed them to immediately take measures to appreciate the value of the rupee.

The CBSL officials had then requested for a week to do the necessary adjustments. However, the high ranking official had demanded otherwise and said: "As I said before, the dollar should come down to LKR 192 by tomorrow morning. If you are unable to do this, have your letters of resignation at my desk by tomorrow. We don't need people who can't get things done." This powerful official had then walked out of the meeting.  

The USD/LKR was quoted at LKR 204 on the day the meeting was held and on the very next day, the rate had fallen to LKR 189.

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