COLOMBO Jan 12 Sri Lanka on Thursday announced
higher returns and residence visas, with immediate effect, for
foreigners who invest funds of at least $300,000, in a move to
ease pressure on the island nation's rupee currency.
The rupee fell around 4 percent last year against the U.S.
dollar, squeezed by higher imports and foreign investors'
scramble out of government securities. That followed the
previous year's depreciation of nearly 10 percent.
"Older people like to spend time in Sri Lanka," Finance
Minister Ravi Karunanayake told reporters in the capital,
Colombo. "If they can invest $300,000 in Sri Lanka we can offer
them resident visas for 2 to 3 years.
"If this can be increased to $1.5 million, then we can
extend the duration. Our main idea is to build non-debt-creating
The investments would boost the country's foreign reserves
and help cut reliance on foreign debt, Karunanayake added.
Foreigners can invest in stocks, government securities or
bank deposits, he said, benefiting from interest rates of around
2 percent to 3 percent on funds invested in Sri Lanka, compared
to rates of around 0.5 percent in other countries.
Sri Lanka is still recovering from a debt and
balance-of-payments crisis last year, but it has adopted
economic reforms in line with conditions set by the
International Monetary Fund for extending a $1.5-billion
It is also preparing to scrap tough foreign exchange
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Shihar Aneez and