An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday August 16th, 2022

Thousands of Migrant workers stranded in the Gulf States

Migrant workers in Kuwait, April 2020

ECONOMYNEXT – Almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many Sri Lankan migrant workers remain stranded mostly in the Gulf States with little or no money, a lot of health issues and premature job terminations while social media reports claimed that these workers are neglected by the local missions in host countries.

Meenu Sethi, who goes by the name @Meenu_2304 on Twitter highlighted the plight of Sri Lankan and other migrant workers on her Twitter feed.

When ECONOMYNEXT reached out to her, she said, “as of now a lot of people(Sri Lankans) do not have any accommodation or food and there is no definite date as to when they can go home because there are only two repatriation flights (SriLankan Airlines flight) which let you do government quarantine, and the rest are paid quarantine.”

Sethi, works closely with some of the stranded migrant workers in the UAE. She has experience in social development, with a special focus on immigration-related issues, poverty, and gender empowerment.

She is a gender, poverty, and development scholar.

“The main difference in the way Sri Lankan Consulate and the other embassies such as Nigerian and Ghanaian embassies which I have been to is that they give more clarity when someone requests for information whereas in the Sri Lankan Consulate they make you go here and there and wouldn’t give priority to people who medical conditions,” Sethi explained.

“It seemed as if the authorities I dealt with here were in a way frustrated with the situation and they seemed not that willing to help, this is not only my experience but the experience of a lot of other people” she added.

“There is this whole aspect where things could have been handled much better, the human touch was lacking.”

“We would always see huge queues outside the embassy and they would not let them enter. With the ambiguity of information that comes from the consulate, people would know nothing even after queuing for hours.

“There was a person who had undergone a major surgery and yet he was refused to be on the repatriation list 9 times. A local police officer finally came on board to support this person and after he made a few phone calls to the Sri Lankan Consulate this person was finally put on the repatriation list.”

However, the official at Sri Lanka’s Bureau of Foreign Employment said that they are aware about it and are working to help the people even though there are lapses due to mission’s office being closed to visitors.

The consulate office in Dubai is currently closed due to infections while the rest of the staff are working from home, an official said.

“In some countries for example Kuwait, Oman, and UAE the labor sections were infected with COVID because they closely work with the people there,” a top official at SLFMB said.

“Mainly because of this COVID issue, these respective missions have restricted people from visiting their office and they work online but they have not given up their services. As a result, we accept that some migrant workers are facing difficulties getting the services done from these missions.”

The official went on to explain that the main issue these migrant workers are faced with is the delays in the repatriation process and with discussions held with the minister and the special presidential task force of COVID, they have realized that limited quarantine capacity in the country creating a bottleneck.

“To overcome this issue, we with all these parties decided to get new places to have quarantine facilities. Last week we advertised on paper calling for people who are interested to offer their hotels or buildings which aren’t under use to use as quarantine facilities.

“Once we get these extra facilities as per health guideline, we are ready to bear the expenses of those centers and speed up repatriation.

“In regards to half payment, we have to work out something with the destination countries and take it diplomatically with the respective missions as to how these employees could be compensated or reemployed.

The official says these issues are faced by all regardless of them being migrant workers or not and the best solution is to bring them back to the country.

Meanwhile, the bureau is in the process of collecting information from the returnees to find out whether they want to return to the Gulf.

“We have more than 16,000 returnee’s application in our database. We are in the process of re-confirming their future requirements by contacting them individually and re assessing their future arrangement or plan. Most of them have said they want to go back again.”

“When we get complaints, we do work them locally and contact the employees we do refer them to respective missions. There can be some lapses and delays in the processes because some companies and consulates are closed or operating with minim staff,” they said.

The official also highlighted that they are being criticized on media for not taking swift measures but he says that the real fact is that SLBFE is not involved in the repatriation process with the special taskforce, “that is one of the reasons”.

According to the official, Sri Lanka has brought down more than 40,000 migrant workers while about 30,000 migrant workers are stranded and are waiting to return. (Colombo/Feb25/2021)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Sri Lanka sovereign rating at SD but ISBs downgraded to ‘D’ by S&P

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating remains at Selective Default (SD), but the country’s sovereign bonds were downgraded to ‘D’ after missed interest payments, Standard and Poor’s, a rating agency said.

“The Sri Lanka government remains in default on some foreign currency obligations, including international sovereign bonds (ISBs),” the S&P said.

“We do not expect the government to make the payments within 30 calendar days after their due dates.

“We lowered the ratings on the affected bonds to ‘D’, following missed interest payments due on June 3, June 28, and July 18, and a missed principal payment due July 25.”

Sri Lanka is still paying senior creditors with money coming from deferred payments from the Asian Clearing Union.

Sri Lanka started to borrow heavily in foreign bond markets from 2015 after battering its currency peg with extraordinary liquidity injections under ‘flexible inflation targeting and the country lost the ability to roll-over maturing rupee bonds at gross financing level.

From 2015 to 2019, the country had monetary stability only in 2017 and 2019 as the pegged exchange rate regime was shattered with liquidity injections to target an ‘output gap’.

However the targeting the output gap led to currency crises (balance of payment deficit) and growth fell as stabilization measures were slammed.

From 2020 to 2022 even more aggressive liquidity injections were made and taxes were also cut saying there was a ‘persistent output gap’ until all foreign reserves including borrowed reserves were lost and the the country defaulted in peacetime.

The International Monetary Fund gave technical assistance to Sri Lanka to calculate the output gap and also endorsed ‘flexible inflation targeting’, with overnight repo injections, term repo injections, outright purchase of bond, despite having a reserve collecting peg.

On April 12, 2022 Sri Lanka defaulted despite being at peace.

The full statement is reproduced below:

Sri Lanka Bonds Downgraded To ‘D’ After Missed Payments; Sovereign Ratings Affirmed


The Sri Lanka government remains in default on some foreign currency obligations, including international sovereign bonds (ISBs).

We do not expect the government to make the payments within 30 calendar days after their due dates.

We lowered the ratings on the affected bonds to ‘D’, following missed interest payments due on June 3, June 28, and July 18, and a missed principal payment due July 25.

We affirmed our ‘SD/SD’ foreign currency and ‘CCC-/C’ local currency ratings on Sri Lanka. The outlook on the long-term local currency rating is negative.

Rating Action

On Aug. 15, 2022, S&P Global Ratings affirmed its ‘SD’ long-term and ‘SD’ short-term foreign currency sovereign ratings on Sri Lanka. At the same time, we affirmed our ‘CCC-‘ long-term and ‘C’ short-term local currency sovereign ratings. The outlook on the long-term local currency rating remains negative.

In addition, we lowered to ‘D’ from ‘CC’ the issue ratings on the following bonds with missed coupon or principal payments:

US$650 million, 6.125% bonds due June 3, 2025.

US$1.0 billion, 6.825% bonds due July 18, 2026.

US$1.0 billion, 5.875% bonds due July 25, 2022.

US$500 million, 6.35% bonds due June 28, 2024.

Our transfer and convertibility assessment at ‘CC’ is unchanged.


Our foreign currency rating on Sri Lanka is ‘SD’ (selective default). We do not assign outlooks to ‘SD’ ratings because they express a condition and not a forward-looking opinion of default probability.

The negative outlook on the local currency rating reflects the high risk to commercial debt repayments over the next 12 months in the context of Sri Lanka’s economic, external, and fiscal pressures.

Downside scenario

We could lower the local currency ratings if there are indications of nonpayment or restructuring of Sri Lankan rupee-denominated obligations.

Upside scenario

We could revise the outlook to stable or raise the local currency ratings if we perceive that the likelihood of the government’s local currency debt being excluded from any debt restructuring has increased. This could be the case if, for example, the government receives significant donor funding, which gives it some time to implement immediate and transformative reforms.

We would raise our long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating upon completion of the government’s bond restructuring. The rating would reflect Sri Lanka’s post-restructuring creditworthiness. Our post-restructuring ratings tend to be in the ‘CCC’ or low ‘B’ categories, depending on the sovereign’s new debt structure and capacity to support that debt.


Sri Lanka’s external public debt moratorium prevents payment of interest and principal obligations due on the government’s ISBs. As such, interest payments due June 3, June 28, and July 18 on its ISBs maturing 2024, 2025, and 2026, and the principal payment on its July 25, 2022, ISB, would have been affected. Following the missed payments, and given our expectation that payment will not be made within 30 calendar days of the due date, we have lowered the issue ratings on these bonds to ‘D’ (default).

Overdue payments now include the following bonds:

US$1.0 billion, 5.875% bonds due 2022.

US$1.25 billion, 5.75% bonds due 2023.

US$500 million, 6.35% bonds due 2024.

US$1.5 billion, 6.85% bonds due 2025.

US$650 million, 6.125% bonds due 2025.

US$1.0 billion, 6.825% bonds due 2026.

US$1.5 billion, 6.20% bonds due 2027.

US$1.25 billion, 6.75% bonds due 2028.

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka rupee guidance peg edges up; market sees dull trade in govt securities 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee guidance peg on interbank spot trading strengthened by seven cents while yields on Treasury bills and bonds remained dull on Monday (15) with only a handful of maturities quoted ahead of the central bank’s monetary policy rates later this week, dealers said.

“There was nothing in the market. It was dull today,” a market dealer said.

The central bank will announce its latest key monetary policy rates on Thursday, August 18.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at at 27.50/28.50 percent on Monday, slightly down from 27.30/28.30 percent on Friday.

The three-month T-bill closed flat at 26.00/27.00 percent on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions strengthened by 7 cents to 360.92 rupees against the US dollar on Monday from 360.85 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 369.70 and 370.00 for small transactions. (Colombo/ Aug 15/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka stocks rally continues for 12th straight session on political stability hopes 

The main index fell for the 4th consecutive session

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks gained for the 12th consecutive session on Monday (15) ending at their highest in more than four months pushed by retail shares amid signs of political stability after months of protests, dealers said.

The market generated 5.8 billion rupees in turnover, nearly twice of this year’s average daily turnover of 3.11 billion rupees.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) rose 1.82% or 164.04 points to 9,191.52, its highest since March 30. The index has risen 19.6% in the last 12 sessions.

“We are seeing a lot of volatility in the market today due to profit taking in the key shares that gained in the last 11 sessions,” a market analyst said.

“Profit-taking also returned after the CSE (Colombo Stock Exchange) published the last set of June reports that showed some counters having done very while some not so much, therefore, there is a significant reaction for that.”

In the last few sessions, the market was mostly driven by Lanka IOC and the plantation sector.

However, ahead of the fuel price revision, LIOC moved to red.

“There was a bit of profit taking on anticipation of price cuts. However, unless fuel prices are cut sharply, LIOC will continue to move,” the analyst said.

At the start of the month, CPC cut fuel prices by 10 rupees based on the price formula.

Globally, crude oil prices have dropped hence there is strong speculation that fuel prices will be cut further.

Last week, Sri Lanka announced a 75 percent electricity tariff hike.

Investors previously feared the move would drag the market down due to possible higher costs for manufacturing firms.

However, the political stability after four months of protest is seen as the catalyst for the market gain, dealers said.

The government also tabled an interim budget last week, revising the budget presented last year as the country is going through an unprecedented economic crisis amid plans on a four-year IMF loan programme, debt restructuring, fiscal reforms, and dealing with loss-making state-owned enterprises.

Sri Lanka already declared sovereign debt default on April 12 this year and failed to pay its first sovereign debt in May amid a deepening economic crisis which later turned into a political crisis and led to a change in the president, cabinet, and government.

The more liquid S&P SL20 index moved up, closing at 0.82% or 25.28 points stronger at 3,097.30.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst fuel and economic crisis in its post-independence era and the economy is expected to contract 7 percent this year.

The main ASPI gained 18.8 percent in August so far after gaining 5.3 percent in July. It lost 9.3 percent in June, 23 percent in April, and 14.5 percent in March.

The market index has lost 24.8 percent so far this year after being one of the world’s best stock markets with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Sri Lanka’s sovereign debt default on April 12 has already led the country to be rated with restricted/selective default rating by rating agencies, which has weighed on investor sentiment.

Net foreign outflow was 117 million rupees on Monday while the total net foreign outflow so far this year is 1.3 billion rupees.

Investors are also concerned over the steep fall of the rupee from 203 to 370 levels so far in 2022.

Ceylinco Insurance which pushed the ASPI, closed 11.9 percent up at 2,143.2 rupees a share. Browns Investment closed 8.5 percent up at 8.9 rupees a share, and John Keells Holdings gained 2.5 percent to 129.7 rupees. (Colombo/Aug15/2022)

Continue Reading