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Friday March 1st, 2024

Sri Lanka scrambles to give passports to 10,000 illegal immigrants in Italy

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s embassy in Rome has made arrangements for over 10,000 persons who have immigrated to Italy illegally to get regular passports after Italy declared an amnesty during Coronavirus crisis, the foreign ministry said

The government of Italy has declared a ‘Sanatoria 2020’ amnesty from June 01 to July 14 to regularize their visa status of illegal migrants.

Amidst the present uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the context of the strong bilateral relations that have continued over the years, the

“…Sri Lankan community members in Italy have been provided the opportunity to regularise their stay through the Sanatoria, declared by the Italian Government…which provides avenues for irregular migrant workers, to obtain legal stay permit for work purposes,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Rome and the Consulate General Office in Milan have arranged facilities to cater to over 10,000 Sri Lankans who would seek consular assistance in the process of regularising their visa status.”

Sri Lanka missions in Rome and Italy have started a special consular service for applicants to get original passports within 10 working days.

A mobile service has been arranged for Sri Lankan in Sicily Island who wishes to get regular passports and visas under the amnesty.

“The process of the special Online Mobile Service includes scrutinizing documents, and interviewing applicants which will be conducted through a video conferencing mode and an electronic mailing system,” the embassy said.

“The special online mobile service will be held on 14 June 2020 commencing from 9.00 am onwards in Catania, Sicily Island.”

Italy has been a key destination for migrants from North of Colombo up to Marawila and beyond to travel to. Their friends and relatives then follow.

The first of Sri Lanka’s Wave II Coronavirus index cases from third countries came from Italy.

Authorities at the time said those who also returned through unofficial means could register for self-quarantine without any questions being asked.

In the style of most free countries, Sri Lanka’s rulers or armed law enforcers have no legal power to prevent a citizen from re-entering the country. There are also no exit visas unlike some dictatorships or countries under military rule. (Colombo/June14/2020-sb)

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Sri Lanka’s RAMIS online tax collection system “not operatable”: IT Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s online tax collection system RAMIS is “not operatable”, and the Ministry of Information Technology is ready to do for an independent audit to find the shortcomings, State IT Minister Kanaka Herath said.

The Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) was introduced to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when the island nation signed for its 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in 2016.

However, trade unions at the IRD protested the move, claiming that the system was malfunctioning despite billions being spent for it amid allegations that the new system was reducing the direct contacts between taxpayers and the IRD to reduce corruption.

The RAMIS had to be stopped after taxpayers faced massive penalties because of blunders made by heads of the IT division, computer operators and system errors at the IRD, government officials have said.

“The whole of Sri Lanka admits RAMIS is a failure. The annual fee is very high for that. This should be told in public,” Herath told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Thursday (29)

“In future, we want all the ministries to get the guidelines from our ministry when they go for ERP (Enterprise resource planning).”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government said the RAMIS system will be operational from December last year.

However, the failure has delayed some tax collection which could have been paid via online.

“It is not under our ministry. It is under the finance ministry. We have no involvement with it, but still, it is not operatable,” Herath said.

“So, there are so many issues going on and I have no idea what the technical part of it. We can carry out an independent audit to find out the shortcomings of the software.”

Finance Ministry officials say IRD employees and trade unions had been resisting the RAMIS because it prevents direct interactions with taxpayers and possible bribes for defaulting or under paying taxes.

The crisis-hit island nation is struggling to boost its revenue in line with the target it has committed to the IMF in return for a 3 billion-dollar extended fund facility. (Colombo/Feb 29/2024) 

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Sri Lanka aims to boost SME with Sancharaka Udawa tourism expo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is hosting Sancharaka Udawa, a tourism industry exhibition which will bring together businesses ranging from hotels to travel agents and airlines, and will allow the small and medium sector build links with the rest of the industry, officials said.

There will be over 250 exhibitors, with the annual event held for the 11th time expected to draw around 10,000 visitors, the organizers said.

“SMEs play a big role, from homestays to under three-star categories,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu told reporters.

“It is very important that we develop those markets as well.”

The Sancharaka Udawa fair comes as the Indian Ocean island is experiencing a tourism revival.

Sri Lanka had welcomed 191,000 tourists up to February 25, compared to 107,639 in February 2023.

“We have been hitting back-to-back double centuries,” Gajabahu said. “January was over 200,000.”

The exhibition to be held on May 17-18, is organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators.

It aims to establish a networking platform for small and medium sized service providers within the industry including the smallest sector.

“Homestays have been increasingly popular in areas such as Ella, Down South, Knuckles and Kandy,” SLAITO President, Nishad Wijethunga, said.

In the northern Jaffna peninsula, both domestic and international tourism was helping hotels.

A representative of the Northern Province Tourism Sector said that the Northern Province has 170 hotels, all of which have 60-70 percent occupancy.

Further, domestic airlines from Colombo to Palali and the inter-city train have been popular with local and international visitors, especially Indian tourists. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 309.50/70 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 309.50/70 to the US dollar Thursday, from 310.00/15 on Wednesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were slightly higher.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.50/70 percent down from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.10 percent from 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.30/45 percent up from 12.20/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.35/50 percent up from 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.55/13.00 percent up from 12.50/90 percent. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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