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Thursday April 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka will resume full repatriation of migrant workers from August 9 – officials

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will fly home some 600 migrant workers from Abu Dhabi and Dubai on July 31 and August 1, but begin full repatriation flights after the elections on August 9, senior officials said.

They told EconomyNext that flights from other countries are also scheduled.

Repatriation flights from the Middle East, in particular, were stopped after the breakout of COVID 19 at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation centre in Polonnaruwa in early July.

With the Kandakadu cluster under control, the National Centre for the Prevention of COVID 19 said it can resume the flights.

A significant number of returning migrant workers from the Middle East and Europe have been found have been COVID 19 positive.

Earlier the government announced that repatriations will resume only in September.

However, after a high-profile incident earlier this week where Jordanian police fired tear gas at women Sri Lankan migrant workers who allegedly were holding three Embassy staffers against their will the government seems to have had a change of heart.

Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations, Admiral Jayantha Colombage as saying that almost 6,000 to 8,000 people are waiting to be immediately repatriated as they have lost their jobs and accommodation.

“We will have a flight on the 31st and then another one on the first for the time being and we are making plans for the rest of the time,” Colombage said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, some 50,000 Lankans are stranded in several countries who are wanting to return.

Sri Lanka halted repatriation process on July 14 after a third COVID infection cluster was identified in a drug rehabilitation centre in Kandakadu, in the North Central Province.

The plight of stranded Sri Lankan migrant workers mostly maids and construction workers in the Middle East has become a major issue.

Activists working for migrant labour claimed at least a hundred Sri Lankan workers have died in various countries during the past three months.

Hemamali Abyerathna, from the group Free Women Organisation, says around half of them have succumbed to the COVID 19 virus as they are out of work and have no access to healthcare.

The incident in Amman, Jordan gained wide attention on social media.

In a widely circulated Facebook video posted by Jatmburewela Chandrarathna Thero shows how the three staff members of the embassy were held hostage by the women migrant workers. The video showed the women trying to feed the hostages the food they have been eating for the past five months. (Colombo, July 29, 2020)

Reported by Mahadiya Hamza

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Sri Lanka’s discussions with bondholders constructive: State finance minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan authorities continue to engage all debt restructuring negotiations in good faith, within principles of equitable treatment among creditors, and with maximum transparency within the norms of such negotiations, State Minister of Finance, Shehan Semasinghe has said.

“It is standard practice, when a representative group of bondholders is formed, to entertain confidential discussions with such group and its appointed advisors. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Ad Hoc Group of Bondholders represents holders controlling more than 50% of the bonds, which make them a privileged interlocutor for Sri Lanka,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“It is well understood that given the price sensitive nature of the negotiations, and according to market regulations, discussions with the Group and its advisors are to be conducted under non-disclosure agreements. This evidently restricts the ability of the Government to unilaterally report about the substance of the discussions.

“The cleansing statement, which was issued on the 16th of April, at the conclusion of this first round of confidential discussions with members of the Group, aims at informing the Sri Lankan people, market participants and other stakeholders to this debt restructuring exercise, about the progress in negotiations. It provides the highest possible level of transparency within the internationally accepted practices in such circumstances.

“As informed in this statement, confidential discussions held in recent weeks with bondholders’ representatives proved constructive, building on the restructuring proposals presented by both parties. During the talks both sides successfully bridged a number of technical issues enabling important progress to be made. Sri Lanka articulated key remaining concerns that need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner.

“The next steps would entail further consultation with the IMF staff regarding assessments of the compatibility of the latest proposals with program parameters. Following these consultations, we hope to continue discussions with the bondholders with a view to reaching common ground ahead of the IMF board consideration of the second review of Sri Lanka’s EFF program.”

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Sri Lanka rupee weakens at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Tuesday, from 299.00/10 on Tuesday, dealers said. Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent up from 11.95/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent down from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2031 closed at 12.30/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasury Bill yields down across maturities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields were down across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield moving down 7 basis points to 10.03 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

The debt office sold all 30 billion rupees of 3-month bills offered.

The 6-month yield fell 5 basis points to 10.22 percent, with 25 billion rupees of bills offered and 29.98 billion rupees sold.

The 12-month yield dropped 4 basis points to 10.23 percent with 18.01 billion rupees of bills sold after offering 23 billion rupees. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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