All economic sectors of the country are faced with unprecedented multiple difficulties today and the banking sector is mindful of the need for responsive, balanced and responsible sectoral support to all sections of the community at this time with the core objective of improving the living standards of all Sri Lankans. During the economic downturn that commenced with the 2019 Easter bombings and continued to worsen with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the banking sector has also committed itself to necessary measures to remain strong, resilient and well capitalized within the required international norms. Through this, our sector always remained in a position to render the support required by all Sri Lankans in general, and the Sri Lankan business community in particular. Accordingly, we are able today to assure our fellow Sri Lankans, international partners, and correspondent banks, that the Sri Lankan banking sector continues to remain strong and able to support the economic stabilization and revival of the country. Using our collective strength, we are geared to facilitate essential measures to overcome the current challenges and ensure an economic recovery.
While being deeply concerned and saddened by the hardships faced by our citizens, all of whom are our valued customers, we are mindful that they will need an extraordinary level of support to overcome current and emerging challenges. To this end, we are constantly engaged with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and other relevant agencies, to help design and implement viable support schemes in a responsible manner.
The severe shortage of foreign exchange faced by the country is a critical issue that must be resolved expeditiously and sustainably. We continue to work closely with the CBSL and relevant agencies to implement many measures to manage this issue as best as possible. We appeal to all concerned to use only formal channels for their foreign currency transactions, and to limit non-essential imports in order support the critical needs of the country in this hour of need. By doing so, you will be helping the CBSL and the banking community to help you more.
The banking community is also working closely with CBSL and the MOF to support the ongoing efforts with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is noted that IMF has identified debt sustainability as a primary requisite for assistance and that this requires the country to achieve economic stability and growth rapidly.
The prudent action exercised by the Central Bank and the Banking sector in the past to build up reserves, specifically the introduction of the Capital Conservation Buffers were meant to combat unforeseen circumstances such as this. The availability of these buffers helps the banking sector remain resilient and stable. Hence we expect Central Bank will release these buffers to the banks to enable them to support the economic recovery meaningfully.
We recognize the need for good governance, transparency and social justice as a strong complement to economic stability and growth, and the banking community calls on the political establishment to bring about the necessary changes to ensure that the justifiable aspirations of our citizenry are realized without further delay. We also urge all parties concerned to ensure that peaceful measures are pursued throughout.
As it has always done in times of crisis in the past, the banking community represented by our 57,000 strong staff members stand ready to support and facilitate a sustainable, just, and inclusive recovery towards a better future for all Sri Lankan citizens.
Note: The SLBA represents all Licensed Banks in Sri Lanka and encourages cooperation among members and coordination of banking sector operations as required. Within this ambit assisting in maintaining and developing a sound banking structure in Sri Lanka in accordance with policy and regulatory frameworks set by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is a key aim.