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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Some missing Sri Lanka Commonwealth athletes found by UK, locations not disclosed

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka athletes who went missing after going to the UK to attend Commonwealth Games have been located but British authorities have not disclosed the locations, an official said.

Sri Lanka has seen a spike in boat people amid the worst currency crisis in the history of the central bank with the rupee falling from 182 to 370 to the US dollar over two years.

During the Commonwealth games 2022, which held in Birmingham, UK 10 of the Sri Lankan athletes and an official decamped from the games villages without informing the officials of the Sri Lankan team or the Commonwealth games.

An official of the Judo team, contestants in judo, wrestling, boxing and beach volleyball went missing. There were two females.

Major General Dampath Fernando who was appointed as the Chef de Mission of the Sri Lanka team for the 22nd Commonwealth Games said, any person in the village had the freedom to leave the village at any time.

“It was also disheartening to note that during the games, 10 athletes and an official disserted us and they have decamped, which has brought discredit and black mark to our country as whole,” Fernando said at the Facilitation of the Medal winners event on Thursday (25).

“Firstly, one of our team mangers, so called the president of the Judo federation, a senior military officer decided to decamp. Not only that he also encouraged his team mates to do the same. Likewise, all together 10 athletes went. It has brought so much discredit to the country.”

All the athletes who left the team participated but went with that motive of deserting and were not focusing on their respective events, he said.

Since the athletes have six months’ visa multiple, there are no legal barriers for them to remain in the UK for the next six months, Fernando said,

“So even if they stayed without passport, they can stay in UK without an issue. In fact, when I asked from the police, they told me the protocol is to carry out investigation.”

UK Birmingham Police had located about 6 of the missing people, however, locations of their hideouts have not been disclosed to the Sri Lankan officials under immigration law of the UK.

Fernando said, after the first two players, the president of the Judo and a player the Birmingham Police who was investigating the incident has sent a message through the Commonwealth secretariat saying they have located two of the missing people and mentioned that the Police have contacted them and were informed both were well and fine.

“After some time when three boxers went missing, when I was chatting with the officer who was in charge and he said, the first two players who were located were given their passports,” Fernando said.

“I said, we respect the UK law, but those two who were located are Sri Lankan athletes, that is employed by the Army. And they will be listed as deserted soldiers. They are here with the government funding and it is not a correct decision to give the passport for them.”

“At that time, he had another passport of a missing athlete and handed over to me, after mentioning all passports will be given to the high Commission of Sri Lanka in UK.”

It was not clear whether they will apply for asylum, Fernando said.

“Even if they do that they will be sent to Uganda. Two batches have been sent like that.”

Meanwhile, Amal Harsha De Silva, the secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports said, an independent probe will be actions against the athletes based on the report.

Sri Lanka has seen a spike in boat people after the rupee fell from 182 to 360 to the US dollar after two years of money printing to target an output gap. (Colombo/ Aug 26/2022)

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Sri Lanka UGC wants to boost number of IT-related degrees

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission is of the view to boost the number of Information Technology (IT) related degrees in state universities with an aim to pave the way for a digital economy.

Sri Lanka’shigher education system has been producing more graduates in Arts stream while the degrees in highly demanded IT and other engineering services are being looked at only now.

“We do have a high demand for engineering, science, AI, computer and electronical engineering

studies,” Chairman of University Grants Commission, Sampath Amaratunga, told reporters at aa media briefing on Friday

“However, while avoiding neglecting the humanities, we should develop new IT skills.”

Amaratunga confirmed that a student who studied in any stream could obtain an IT degree, including students who studied in the arts stream.

The UGC data show that out of 18,490 engineering technology stream students who sat for their Advanced Levels (A/L) in 2022, 10634 were eligible for university.

“Even streams like agriculture should be encouraged to use technology,” Amaratunga said. (Colombo/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka leader inaugurates Climate Justice Forum at COP28 in Dubai

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe launched Climate Justice Forum (CJF) at the ongoing 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai in a move to gather support for vulnerable nations hit by climate-change led disasters.

This year’s climate summit held in Dubai’s EXPO2020 features a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

Wickremesinghe inaugurated the Climate Justice Forum at COP28 on Saturday and emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate issues with a sense of justice and equity.

The President had been in talks with many nations vulnerable to climate change disasters including African and South American countries to get their support for the CJF.

The move is to compel advanced and developed countries to look into the poor nations hit by the climate changes and help them to get over economic and debt burdens by either investing more in green energy initiatives or writing off debts to ease financial pressure.

Sri Lanka, which is now facing an unprecedented economic crisis, has seen increasing losses and damages, both human lives and physical properties due to climate change-led disasters like floods, drought, and earth slips.

In his speech at the COP28 forum, Wickremesinghe on Friday said the Climate Justice Forum will provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. (Dubai/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka IMF review goes to executive board on December 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The first review of Sri Lanka’s International Monetary Fund program is scheduled to go the lender’s Executive Board for consideration on December 12.

Sri Lanka officials were expecting the review to be completed in December as soon as official creditors gave their assurances.

According to the notice Sri Lanka had missed one performance criterion and has requested modifications.

Sri Lanka has outperformed on a number of quantity targets including inflation. In addition to quantity PCs there was also one non-accumulation of arrears.

There would also be re-phasing of access. The review was originally expected around September with another review based on December data, leading to September and March disbursements.

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