Common Understanding

August 01, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has agreed to extend ˜national treatment™ to Indian banks and allow them to employ up to six expatriate staff, when both sides met for bilateral trade talks recently, an official said.

Sri Lanka currently caps expatriate staff to three and that only at management level of banks.

Four Indian banks ICICI Bank, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and State Bank of India who have a branch presence in Colombo have been asking for expatriate staff to expand their reach.

The neighboring giant has also asked for permission to allow another Indian bank to set up operations here, following a request by Mumbai based UTI Bank to invest here.

In turn, a consortium of Sri Lankan banks will be allowed to invest in India, with no restrictions on professional staff working at various branches.

It™s hard for a single Sri Lankan bank to penetrate India, so the Indians allowed us to form a consortium and take the route, H N Thenuwara, co-chair of the Indo-Sri Lanka financial cluster told LBO Tuesday.

So far, three to four local commercial banks are keen to form an alliance, with tentative plans to enter India through Chennai and Bangalore.

Thenuwara, who is