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Tuesday February 7th, 2023

Three more Sri Lankan athletes go missing in Europe amid currency crisis

Passport of Sri Lanka on white background

ECONOMYNEXT – Three more Sri Lankan athletes – this time, wrestlers attending the Under 23 World Wrestling Championship in Spain – have gone missing, sports officials said.

Two members of the all-male six-member team had disappeared on October 22, followed by the third sportsman the next day, an official for Sri Lanka Wrestling Federation said, requesting anonymity.

This is the latest in a series of disappearing acts pulled by Sri Lankan athletes in Europe. Previously, nine athletes and one official went missing during the Commonwealth Games 2022 in early August.

In an interesting twist, however, this time, the Spanish authorities appeared largely unconcerned about the missing Sri Lankans, according to the wrestling official.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst currency crisis in decades, and runaway inflation and a host of other issues are compelling young Sri Lankan men and women to find better prospects abroad, legally or otherwise.

Investigations into this Spanish vanishing act are underway, regardless, and Sri Lankan officials plan to talk to the families of the missing wrestlers in the coming days in the hope of establishing contact and making sure that they are still in Spain.

Wrestling Federation officials that went to Spain with the team had alerted Spanish authorities the moment they went missing.

“They had visas till October 25, 2022,” the official said.

Passports of two of the players are still with the officials, who customarily hold onto athletes’ passports, but the other athlete’s passport is nowhere to be found.

“We suspect the passport was taken from the official personnel bag before deserting the team,” the official said.

Athletes are permitted to carry their passport on their person into the stadium for any legal clearance that may be needed when athletes are weighed before a tournament.

Spanish authorities did not show much interest in finding the deserters, the official claimed.

“We informed the police immediately, but they said the missing players can take refuge in the country and may be able to find jobs as long as they are not involved in any criminal activity,” the official said.

“The players sign a bond before they’re to tournaments abroad. If they are unable to contact us through their parents or families, legal action can be taken against them.”

“When permission is given to these athletes we get the recommendations from a few places, such as the federation of the relevant sport, the Sports Selection Committee and the Sports Council,” I P Wijeratne, Director of Sports, Sport Development Department, told EconomyNext on Thursday October 27.

“I think a thorough background check must be done even when selecting the players in order to minimise this issue,” he said.

Since the disappearance of the three wrestlers, the Sports Ministry has stopped all outbound sports tours for the time being.

“More attention should be given to this matter by the committees,” said Wijeratne, adding that recently it was discovered that that powerlifters had been selected for an upcoming sumo wrestling tournament, which was later cancelled.

“These sort of issues can harm the selection process, and it can cost an opportunity to athletes that genuinely represent the country and want to win.”

Asked about the progress into investigations over the athletes that went missing at the Commonwealth Games, Wijeratne said the Sport Development Department has yet to receive any information on the whereabouts of the missing athletes.

“The Sports Offences Prevention Unit has been tasked with compiling a report on the matter,” he said. (Colombo/Oct27/2022)

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  1. maithri says:

    ඔහොම පනින අය කලින් සැලසුම් කරල එන්නේ .එයාලගේ පොටෝ එකක් දැම්මනම් සොයන්න පුලුවන්.

  2. emilyjoack says:

    First, find our stolen money by the economic criminals’ then the missing athletes will be back in the country

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  1. maithri says:

    ඔහොම පනින අය කලින් සැලසුම් කරල එන්නේ .එයාලගේ පොටෝ එකක් දැම්මනම් සොයන්න පුලුවන්.

  2. emilyjoack says:

    First, find our stolen money by the economic criminals’ then the missing athletes will be back in the country

Sri Lanka Railways to seek PPPs to boost revenue streams

CURFEW RUSH: Commuters scrambling to get home after curfew was declared in Sri Lanka on March 20, 2020.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Railway department hopes to expand Public Private Partnerships and earn more non-passenger revenues to offset recurring operational costs, an official said.

“For the past 10 years, except the last few years, the Railway operational income only covers around 50 percent of the operational expense of the Department,” the General Manager of the Railway, D.S. Gunasinghe told EconomyNext.

“Our plan is to increase the non-passenger revenue of the Railway department.

“And we cannot expect and do not hope for money from the government.”

Sri Lanka Railways already has agreements with Prima, a food firm, and Insee Cement, which is bringing in additional income, Gunasinghe said.

“We had agreements for material transportation such as sand in the past, however it was canceled but we hope to start it again” he said.

The department will rent out its storage facilities and circuit bungalows for the tourism sector to create additional revenue streams.

Sri Lanka Railways recorded an operating loss of 10.3 billion rupees during 2021, compared to a loss of 10.1 billion rupees in 2020, the Central Bank 2021 annual report showed.

The total revenue of the SLR stood at 2.7 billion rupees, a 41.3 percent drop from a year ago.

(Colombo/ Feb 06/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s doctors distribute anti-tax hike leaflets to train commuters

ECONOMYNEXT – Doctors representing Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) distributed leaflets outside the Colombo Fort railway station against a progressive tax hike, threatening to address the government in a “language it speaks”.

GMOA Secretary Haritha Aluthge told reporters outside the busy Fort railway station Monday February 06 afternoon that all professional associations have collectively agreed to oppose the personal income tax hike.

“The government is taking a lethargic approach. They cannot keep doing this. They have a responsibility towards the citizens, the country and society,” said Aluthge.

The medical officer claimed that the government was acting arbitrarily (අත්තනෝමතික).

“If it cannot understand the language they’ve been speaking, if the government’s plan is to put all professionals out on the street, if it doesn’t present a solution, all professional unions have decided unanimously to address the government in a language it speaks, ,” he said.

Aluthge and other GMOA members were seen distributing leaflets to commuters leaving the railway station. Doctors in Sri Lanka in general are likely to earn higher salaries than the average train commuter, and a vast majority of Sri Lanka’s population, most of whom take public transport, don’t fall into the government’s new tax bracket. Many doctors, though certainly not all, collect substantial sums of money at the end of every month as doctor’s fees in private consultations.

About two miles away from the doctors, the Ceylon Blank Employees’ Union, too, engaged in a similar distribution leaflet campaign on Monday at the Maradana railway station. A spokesman promised “tough trade union” action if there was no solution offered by next week.

Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped government has imposed a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax on all Sri Lankans who earn an income above 100,000 rupees monthly, with the tax rate progressively increasing for higher earners, from 6 percent to 36 percent.

A person who paid a tax of 9,000 rupees on a 400,000 rupee monthly income will now have to pay 70,500 rupees as income tax, the latest data showed. This has triggered a growing wave of anti-government protests mostly organised by public sector trade unions and professional associations.

Even employees of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank recently joined a week-long “black protest” campaign organised by state sector unions against the sharp hike in personal income tax, even as Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said painful measures were needed for the country to recover from its worst currency crisis in decades.

The government, however, defends the tax hike arguing that it is starved for cash as Sri Lanka, still far from a complete recovery, is struggling to make even the most basic payments, to say nothing of the billions needed for public sector salaries.

Economists say Sri Lanka’s bloated public service is a burden for taxpayers in the best of times, and under the present circumstances, it is getting harder and harder to pay salaries and benefits.

Sri Lanka’s new tax regime has both its defenders and detractors. Critics who are opposed to progressive taxation say it serves as a disincentive to industry and capital which can otherwise be invested in growth and employment-generating business ventures. Instead, they call for a flat rate of taxation where everyone is taxed at the same rate, irrespective of income.

Others, however, contend that the new taxes only affect some 10-12 percent of the population and, given the country’s economic situation, is necessary, if not vital, at least for a year or two.

Critics of the protesting workers argue that most of the workers earn high salaries that most ordinary people can only dream of, and, they argue, though there may be some cases where breadwinners could be taxed more equitably, overall, Sri Lanka’s tax rates remain low and are not unfair.  (Colombo/Feb06/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond Yields end steady

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields closed steady on Monday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.15/30 percent, steady from Friday’s 32.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 28.90/29.10, steady from Friday’s 28.90/20.05 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions appreciated by one cent to 361.96 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 370.35 rupees on Monday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 06/2023)

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