Sri Lanka Goes Digital: Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Policies, Procedures and Legislation Stepping into the “New Normal”
As the world now aims to return to normalcy from the global COVID-19 pandemic, several countries are back to work, this time with the responsibility of creating more employment and development opportunities. This comes with great challenges and innovation around digital technologies will play a key role in the “new normal”.
Sri Lanka is just recovering from a third wave caused by the highly contagious ‘Delta variant’, and while the pandemic affected millions of our citizens and affected the livelihoods of many. People lost their jobs, while many others are looking at fresh avenues to start over. While Asia is still catching up to many of the ‘newer’ technologies, most of the developed countries have implemented much relaxed policies and legislation around cryptocurrencies and blockchain-related technologies, enabling smoother, faster and transparent processes and procedures.
As we now edge closer to 2022, it is now time for Sri Lanka to keep up with the global trends which not only will create better opportunities for the youth in the global markets but will also enable us as a government to create more digital-centric opportunities here at home and strengthen the economy.
Keeping in line with the National Policy Framework — Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour — which highlights the importance and values of a technology-based society, I will this week be appointing a committee comprising of government and private sector individuals to advise the cabinet on the possible regulations, acts and laws in cryptocurrency mining, digital-driven banking, adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. Cabinet approval has already been granted to appoint the said committee following a proposal I submitted.
This committee will be mandated to study the regulations and initiatives of other countries such as Dubai, Malaysia, Philippines, EU, and Singapore etc, and propose a suitable framework to be implemented in Sri Lanka.
The committee will also study the laws and regulations of other countries in terms of anti-money laundering, terrorism financing, criminal activities, and the Know Your Customer (KYC) processes. As the Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring, I have also proposed to the cabinet to offer companies and entrepreneurs and startups engaged in digital banking and cryptocurrency, blockchain technologies and crypto mining, to be allowed to set up offices in Sri Lanka and establish an operating base. This would also include having a special scheme of visas for such companies and entrepreneurs, as their spending power and capacity will assist in GDP growth and indirect tax in terms of revenue into the country.
Further, I have also proposed to set up a Blockchain Academy on a PPP basis to support youth in skilling themselves in the blockchain space while enabling them to find employment opportunities from foriegn companies. I firmly believe that such opportunities will directly enable the youth to bring foreign revenue into the country.
While I have proposed to have a ‘Blockchain Summit’ in Sri Lanka with the participation of local and foreign private sector companies, and I plan to establish the “Sri Lanka Blockchain Center” under the purview of the State Ministry of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development to facilitate FDI with BOI and ICTA.
We also aim to device a mechanism for interested Blockchain companies consuming power to deploy captive renewable power plants with a storage of 10 feed power during peak times to reduce the burden on the grid under the purview of the Ministry of Power and State Ministry Of Solar Power, Wind and Hydro Power Generation Projects Development the and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
My ministry will continue to be advised by the committee which will begin drafting the policies from this week and we hope to complete this task just ahead of the November budget. Sri Lanka has many opportunities available and it is time we take action to keep up with the global trends as the new generation of youngsters prepare to enter the workforce.
I seek cooperation from all stakeholders whether it be private citizens, startups, corporates and government agencies to support the initiatives to take Sri Lanka digital. I firmly believe that blockchain technologies and crypto currencies will create a more transparent society and enable the country to integrate itself into the ‘new world’ we all are stepping into.