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The importance of protecting migrant workers



Speeph by Piyankara Jayaratne, State Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Market Diversification,

Sri Lanka at the Abu Dhabi Dialogue Sixth Ministerial Consultation, 26th October 2021 in Dubai as Troika Chair.

Allow me to address you all in the opening session of the 6th Ministerial Consultation of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue. I’m talking here with great honour and pleasure in this pleasant morning as the Troika member in this hybrid meeting, in the first physical gathering in the post-covid new normal.

First of all, I would like to appreciate and congratulate the Government of United Arab Emirates, the current chair of ADD, for organizing this hybrid event for 6th ministerial consultation while we all are combating against the Global Pandemic of COVID-19. I am happy to be in person here and too see you all gathered here together for this important consultation.

As we are aware, Migration today, as it has always been, is a function of the search for greater opportunities. It is of course, related to the economic development through trade and labour migration while ensuring rights of the people and national and regional security.

On one way, labour migration provides an opportunity for the migrants to find fruitful employment and improve their socio-economic status. On the other hand, this allows growing nations to seek out the required expertise and talent from rest of the world. However, it poses risks such as those encountered during recruitment, in the workplace and throughout the migration process in the country of origin, transit and destination.

Development gains of labour migration depends upon the degree, to which migrant workers are protected and empowered, by the country of origin as well as the country of destination.

Therefore, migration today is a multi-dimensional process, countries of origin and destination has the potential for both benefits and challenges. In light of the COVID 19 pandemic, it has resulted in many socio-economic challenges for migrant workers. In order to address these challenges, we as Country of Origin and Country of Destination have to consult each other for the successful and sustainable solutions.

Sri Lankan Government was able to take several measures that contributed to the national Covid 19 response plan for migrant workers. I believe that all other countries have their own plans. However, I would like to highlight that ADD platform is an excellent opportunity for all of us to share our experiences, best practices especially in areas that are important for migrant workers. This would enable us, to have a good understanding as to which areas we need to improve and strengthen in the future.

We, as member states of ADD, have just completed twelve years in the journey since the inception in 2008 and therefore, I strongly believe that it is high time to review and evaluate our collaborative efforts how we act in the current pandemic period and in future. This will certainly help all member states to develop future plans of ADD more meaningfully. I know that ADD can Play a vital role in bringing together labour sending and receiving countries and fostering the dialogue and trust that is central to the governance of Migration. Further, I’d like to highlight the need for regional corporation to enhance the resilience of safe labour migration in future to meet global event like that of Covid-19 pandemic.

Further, Migrant workers face various challenges in accessing quality training and decent employment opportunities, and lack of information and exploitation of low-skilled workers. To reap the benefits of migration, countries thus need to ensure that migration is demand-oriented, while migrant workers’ rights are protected. The access to education and training with right information and employment opportunities would enable proper integration of workers with the labour market and society. Certification and Joint Recognition of skills is another important factor that we have to be discussed.

We are all aware, there are three pillars of effective governance guides that are initiated by the ADD.

1) Ensuring the protection of migrant workers;

2) empowering workers to fulfil their goals and aspirations; and

3) affording workers the opportunity to benefit equitably from the outcomes of temporary labour migration.

Under this, the four thematic areas were designed and outlined during the last Senior Officials Meeting with these principles in mind. Namely,

Anticipated changes in the employment landscape in the GCC and their impact on labour supply and demand in ADD corridors

Leveraging advanced technology to improve labour mobility governance

Pre deployment testing of workers in Asia GCC Corridors

Global Governance of Migration

At this juncture, as ADD member countries, I would like to request you to continue our efforts with collaborative actions, because, I believe that productive, safe and harmonious migration can only be achieved if there is wider and deeper inter-state co-operation among the sending and receiving countries. It is the key to a better functioning of International Labour Migration Process. It will provide us with more positive results through a voluntary and cooperative efforts based on shared recognition of the benefits while enhancing the resilience.

On behalf the Government of Sri Lanka and as a Troika Member, would like to express our sincere gratitude to Abu Dhabi Dialogue Secretariat for their trust that kept with Government of Sri Lanka to initiate consultations among Abu Dhabi Dialogue Member States of Labour Origin and to identify a consensus candidate to chair the next cycle of the ADD.

I am happy that we were be able achieve that task diplomatically. Thank you very much for Government of Nepal and Pakistan. I take this opportunity to congratulate Government of Pakistan as the upcoming chair of Abu Dhabi Dialogue for the next two years. In this juncture, I also would like to extend my thanks to Government of United Arab Emirates for the esteemed corporation given during their period of chairmanship despite the challenges brought by COVID 19 pandemic.

Finally, I request active participation of the member countries for this 6th Ministerial consultation and in future in order to strengthen the migration management, both in labour origin and destination countries through this excellent platform of ADD.

We will have a collective voice together for the betterment of Migrant workers and the Countries of Origin and Destination as a whole.

I hope and believe we would have a very productive consultation toward enhancing the resilience of safe labour migration.

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ComBank partners with PayHere to offer Q+ users a unique eCommerce experience



Commercial Bank’s Group Chief Marketing Officer Mr Hasrath Munasinghe (2nd from right) and PayHere Founder/CEO, Mr Dhanika Perera (2nd from left) exchange the agreement in the presence of PayHere Head of Developments, Mr Karvin Mendis (extreme left) and the Bank’s Senior Manager – Card Centre Mr Seevali Wickramasinghe.

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has partnered with PayHere, Sri Lanka’s largest Aggregated Internet Payment Gateway Service, to offer users of its Q+ Payment App a unique, user-friendly and secure eCommerce experience.

Commercial Bank customers can now conveniently pay for their purchases via the Q+ app to over 3300 registered PayHere Online Payment Service enabled merchants. The Bank’s Credit, Debit and Prepaid Card holders who pay through Q+, the fastest-growing QR app in the country, will not be required to tap in their card details as this information is already stored on the app, the Bank said.

Payments to PayHere merchants via the Q+ Online Pay facility will enhance customer convenience as the transaction will only require the entering of users’ mobile numbers registered with the app. Disbursements via Q+ require authentication using a static PIN which ensures the safety and security of transactions, making the Q+ App more secure than a normal card as the customers’ sensitive data is not transmitted to merchant websites.

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TAMAP drives Stakeholder Forum for Good Agriculture Practice



Secretary of Agriculture Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe addressing the forum

The inaugural meeting of the GAP Stakeholder Forum was held with the support of the Technical Assistance to the Modernisation of Agriculture Programme (TAMAP) at the Department of Agriculture in Peradeniya on 17 November 2021. Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) programme, introduced by the Department of Agriculture in 2016, was a promising step taken to minimise adverse impacts of agriculture on the ecosystem and human health while meeting steadily rising demand for food. Although the programme had an encouraging start, the overall conversion of farmers to implementing GAP remained low. Over the past six years, 1500 farmers registered as GAP producers out of the 1.8 million farmers in Sri Lanka. To align with the current policy of the Sri Lankan Government to improve ecological friendliness of farming, it is important to transform all production units towards GAP farms.

Studies showed that to achieve this goal, the GAP implementation strategies needed to be updated and infused into the mainstream agriculture, facilitating a quick transformation of the current approach towards a macro-level system. Therefore, the requirement for a rapid strategizing of such an approach followed by periodic review of GAP performance arose. This initiated the need for a stakeholder forum.

The key purpose of the forum is to provide a common platform for key stakeholders to meet in formulating a strategy to mainstream SL GAP, propose a way forward for implementation such recommendations, and to regularly review program performance and adopt remedial action to achieve GAP objectives.

Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture who chaired the Forum in his opening statement commented, “GAP programme has emerged a solution to challenges faced by Sri Lankan agriculture today to improve safety of users and ensuring good environmental performance. Reinforced by facilitating legislation and approved national standards, GAP programme provides a strong foundation towards addressing above concerns.”.

Over forty participants were present at the forum, representing the various stakeholder groups comprising producers, distributers, SL GAP team, academics, and market players. Ms D. S. Ratnasinghe, Addl. Director (Agribusiness) and Dr W. M. W. Weerakoon, National Coordinator outlined the status of the GAP programme and the challenges faced.

The deliberations during the forum were broken down into five main areas: Technical, financial, institutional, and social problems faced by GAP stakeholders on maintaining production, supply, product quality, and consumer trust. Gaps in technology transfer and adoption, marketing and quality control measures and means for increased rate of adoption and GAP farm certification; Gaps in current GAP process and procedures, user friendliness and applicability; Future technological needs towards increasing production, productivity, product quality and ecosystem sustainability; and Policy needs for increased adoption of GAP to mainstream GAP into national agriculture agenda.

Prof. G. Pushpakumara, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya and Ms Jayantha Ilankoon, ADG (Dev) moderated the forum through group activity, outcome presentations and strategic discussions on the way forward.

Concluding the forum, Dr Nihal Atapattu, stated, “TAMAP, along with the European Union that provided the funding support is very pleased to have assisted to launch several interventions that would promote recognition of GAP as a premier means of strengthening Sri Lankan agriculture in sustainably meet requirements of the domestic and export markets. TAMAP expects that the Stakeholder Forum launched today will be a milestone event in advancing GAP to achieve its potential in Sri Lanka”.

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HNB’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments wins Daraz award



Daraz Managing Director Rakhil Fernando (fourth from left) handing over the award to HNB Head of Cards – Gauthami Niranjan. Also present (from left): Daraz Partnerships Nimesh Dasanayake, Daraz Senior Manager – Prepayments Sandamina Rajapaksha, Daraz Head of Partnerships Dulika Jayamanne, HNB Cards Business Development Executive - Ashokan Harishanna, HNB Assistant Manager - Cards Business Development and Portfolio Management - Imanka Keshini Hikkaduwage and HNB Cards Business Development Executive – Roshan Chaminda Perera.

HNB has been recognized by Daraz for exceptional contribution to its growth, in an independent endorsement of Sri Lanka’s leading private bank’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments throughout the country.

The award, for the ‘Card Base with Highest Overall Growth’, was presented to HNB at the ‘Daraz Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’. HNB, which ranks among Daraz’s best banking partners, recorded the highest growth on total payment volume, buyer engagement and total transactions month-on-month, for both credit and debit cards for the year 2020-2021.

“This award is an important validation how the local economy – both businesses and consumers – are benefiting from HNB’s cohesive programme to drive greater adoption of e-commerce and digital payments,” HNB Head of Cards, Gauthami Niranjan said. “These efforts are particularly significant at present, given how digital and contactless payments can assist in reducing the spread of the pandemic and support the Bank’s and the country’s vision to transform Sri Lanka to a cashless economy.”

Currently, HNB Cardholders enjoy multiple offers on Daraz, Sri Lanka’s leading online marketplace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global e-commerce giant, the Alibaba Group. These include zero-interest instalment plans up to 48 months with attractive discounts for HNB Credit and Debit Cards and 10% off site-wide on Daraz for all HNB Credit Cards on purchases made during Saturdays. In addition, HNB tied up with Daraz for its 11:11 and Black Friday sales, which provided HNB Cardholders access to a range of offers and massive discounts.

HNB has been a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s banking industry in the digital banking and digital payments space. These include the launch of digital wallet and payment app, HNB SOLO and introducing Asia’s first-ever fitness-linked savings product in the form of the HNB FIT Savings Account.

With 254 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically-innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd. The bank was also ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine for five consecutive years. HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020.

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