Invoking the recently passed Right to Information Act, Chandra Jayaratne has written to the Customs Department demanding details of the enforcements regime/infrastructure and procedures relevant to the Foreign Exchange Act No 12 of 2017.
In particular Jayaratne has asked the Customs Department to reveal ‘the procedures and processes introduced for incoming and outgoing persons (Sri Lankans- whether resident or non-resident, dual citizens or visitors or citizens of any other country) at the border points to declare a) foreign funds brought into Sri Lanka, foreign funds taken out of Sri Lanka, and measures to ensure all persons are aware of the applicable regulations at entry or departure points.
The full text of the request is as follows:
Information Officer Appointed Under Right to Information Act,
Sri Lanka Customs,
40, Main Street,
Dear Sir / Madam,
Exercising Citizens Rights under Section 3 (1) of the Right to Information Act, No. 12 of 2016
I wish to exercise my rights to access information from the Sri Lanka Customs Department, (being a duly created Public Authority and in my status as a citizen of Sri Lanka), in terms of section 3 (1) of the Right to Information Act, No. 12 of 2016, which reads as “ Subject to the provisions of section 5 of this Act, every citizen shall have a right of access to information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority”.
I wish to obtain the under noted information from the Sri Lanka Customs Department, regarding the Enforcements Regime / Infrastructure and Procedures of the Sri Lanka Customs, post the effective coming in force of the Foreign Exchange Act No.12 of 2017 and the regulations made under such Act and the repeal of the provisions of the Exchange Control Act (Chapter 423):
1. The procedures and processes introduced by the Sri Lanka Customs in terms of the Regulations made under the Foreign Exchange Act No.12 of 2017, for incoming and outgoing persons ( Sri Lankans- whether resident or non-resident, dual citizens or visitors or citizens of any other country) at the border points to
a) Declare on a formal basis, subject to post validation enabled documentation, records and / or endorsements,
i. of foreign brought in to Sri Lanka by any person (ie. where such foreign currency notes exceeds or equals to USD 15,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currency on a declaration to Customs Department where such foreign currency notes are less than 15,000 or its equivalent notes exceeding or equal to USD 15,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currency, on an appropriate declaration to the authorized dealer or restricted dealer)
ii. of foreign taken out of Sri Lanka by any person (ie. where such foreign currency notes exceeds or equals to USD 10,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currency)
iii. To make aware all persons upon entry and departure at the border points, of the applicable regulations for declaration of foreign currency holdings, including by prominently displayed notification boards,
2. In the context of the Foreign Exchange Act decriminalizing offenses under the said Act and hereinafter not imposing any penal sentences for the offence of violation of the provisions of the said Act,
a) whether henceforth at the border points or during other search options or investigations instituted by Sri Lanka Customs, upon any discovery of persons in possession of
i. Foreign currency beyond limits permitted to be held in possession of such persons under the regulations promulgated under the Foreign Exchange Act No: 12 of 2017
ii. Foreign currency that have not been declared to the Customs at border points
iii. Foreign Currency ehildt in preparation for transit at ports and airports or in transit by planes or ships or such other vessels or carriers,
clarify under the present Foreign Exchange regime and regulations, whether any Customs Officer can legally
*take possession of such foreign currency
*arrest such suspect
*confiscate such foreign currency
b) Henceforth upon any discovery at the border points or during other search options or during investigation currently ongoing or following completion of investigations findings, of persons, ( being any person against whom or any company or partnership against which legal proceedings or investigations are pending in respect of prosecution under the provisions of the repealed Exchange Control Act or Foreign Exchange Act No.12 of 2017), in possession of documentary proof or such other evidence of having made outward remittances in respect of a permissible capital transaction without obtaining clearance for the remittance from the Central Bank ( all as detailed in the Regulations promulgated under the Foreign Exchange Act 12 of 2017) what action or procedures will Customs Officers follow?
I await you’re your response in line with the provisions of the Right to Information Act, No. 12 of 2016
cc. Secretary to the Treasury
Governor of the Central Bank
Assistant Governors in Charge of the Foreign Exchange Department & Financial Intelligence Units of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka
Director General of Customs,
Deputy Minister, National Policies and Economic Affairs.
Right to Information Commission