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Sunday September 24th, 2023

Sri Lanka to conduct survey on unregistered migrants; offers houses

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Employment will start a survey to assess the number of Sri Lankans who have left the country with no records and offered houses, Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.

“We don’t have data on the number of migrants. We don’t have information on Sri Lankans who are permanent residents in foreign countries, those who have gone for studies, and those who have gone for work and not returned to the country for a long time,” Nanayakkara told reporters in Colombo at a media briefing.

“The Labour Ministry, Foreign Employment Bureau, and other institutions jointly are going to conduct a survey in the next few days to find out the plight of Sri Lankan migrants.”

“We will be addressing the housing needs of those migrants’ families while obtaining the details with the help of the Housing Ministry and National Housing Development Authority.”

Some Sri Lankans do not register in the Foreign Employment Bureau when they leave the country for blue collar jobs, while most professionals including doctors, care givers, and engineers never get registered, government officials say.

Thousands of Sri Lankans are now leaving the country after an unprecedented economic crisis while an increasing number of students have also been looking for foreign universities for their higher studies.

Government officials say those who go out of the country for higher studies hardly return to Sri Lanka, given they have better opportunities in the other countries.

“We can’t get the accurate number of migrants because there are many illegal migrations. There is no way we can have an idea about the numbers,” Nanayakkara told EconomyNext.

Sri Lanka has witnessed an increase in the brain drain since the country officially declared a sovereign debt default in April last year.

Remittances is Sri Lanka’s top foreign exchange earner before the economic crisis. The island nation saw a record $7.1 billion revenue in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic hit globally. (Colombo/September 15/2023)

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Sri Lanka India industrial zone around Trinco, maritime links mooted

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had highlighted the desire of both the Governments to work closely to develop the industrial zone at Trincomalee, after accepting an invitation to participate in a maritime summit.

The Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) will be held in India from October 17-19, 2023 at Mumbai where Sri Lanka has been invited at a partner country.

At a curtain raiser event on September 22, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay had said both countries were working on enhancing sea connectivity according to a vision document launched during a recent visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India.

Minister de Silva will lead a delegation from Sri Lanka to the summit.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, T K Ramachandran said the Global Maritime India Summit aims strengthen the Indian maritime economy by promoting global and regional partnerships and facilitating investments.

The event will give an opportunity to the Government of Sri Lanka to attracting greater investment from India in development of its maritime infrastructure, Ramachandran said.

It will also facilitate greater business to business interactions. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka brings back import para tariff on milk

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has brought back an import para tariff called the Ports and Airports Levy, to several grades of milk powder.

Milk powder has been removed from a list of PAL exemptions, making them liable for a 10 percent tax.

The PAL para tariffs are also a contentious issue in terms of export competitiveness, and the government has previously given undertakings that they will be eliminated.

Trade freedoms of the poor figure in an IMF/World bank reform program with the governments.

Milk is a protein rich food, in a country where children of poor families are facing stunting and malnutrition.

Economic nationalism is seen at high levels in food, with several businessmen are pushing for trade protection, amid an overall autarkist (self-sufficiency) ideology, going directly against policies followed in East Asia, which the same as hold up as examples.

Sri Lanka keeps dairy product prices up ostensibly to bring profits to a domestic dairy company and farmers.

Sri Lanka also keeps maize prices up, ostensibly to give profits to farmers and collectors. (Colombo/Sept22/2023)

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Sri Lanka govt warns liquor manufacturers: pay defaulted tax or lose licence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government which is struggling to raise the state revenue despite   higher taxes, has warned liquor manufacturers to pay defaulted taxes or lose their licence.

The government is now getting tough with past tax defaulters amid concerns over falling short of this year’s revenue target agreed with the International Monetary Fun (IMF).

“Liquor manufacturing firms owe us 660 crore rupees (6.6 billion rupees),” Siyambalapitiya told  reporters on Thursday (21).

“Most of this or around a third is the only excise tax amount to be paid. The rest is penalty. If a liquor manufacturer does not pay on time, we impose a penalty of 3 percent per month This means 36 percent (penalty) per annum,” he said.

“We have given them deadline to repay the basic excise taxes. If they don’t pay, we will cancel their licence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government committed an ambitious revenue target among many other reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return to a $3 billion loan package.

However, the revenue could face a short fall of 100 billion rupees, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said.

A new Central Bank Act also has legally prevented the government of printing money at its discretion as  in the past.  (Colombo/September 24/2023)

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