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The importance of protecting migrant workers

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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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‘Revenue collecting PCs had only Rs. 40 billion for public service in 2021’

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Pasanda Yapa Abeywardena

By Sanath Nanayakkare

There wouldn’t be a better time for major political parties to discuss and arrive at a consensus for abolishing the revenue-collecting provincial council system which hasn’t done anything more than just distributing government-sponsored welfare goods to the people, Pasanda Yapa Abeywardena, chief organiser of Lankalokaya and former provincial councilor said at a press conference in Colombo on January 19.

Pasanda who enjoys familial relationships with political higher-ups in the country while being the current chairman of Sathosa said that the President of Sri Lanka can travel across the island by helicopter in just one and a half hours which is only the size of Virginia in the United States, but has so many layers of governance including executive presidency, parliament, provincial councils, district secretariats, local government institutions etc.

“It is a known fact that provincial councils are mere training centres for the offspring of senior politicians and there is a demand in the country for cost-effective small government. In such a context, all political parties should have a dialogue in the next six months to abolish provincial councils, and strengthen the local government bodies through district development councils administered by the central government. Such a mechanism would reduce administrative layers while expanding the effective understanding of policies made by the government. Then the decisions made by the cabinet of ministers will easily flow to the ground level and the implementation process will be more dynamic. The President also has expressed similar views in this regard, he said.

“In the year 2021, revenue of provincial councils amounted to Rs. 331 billion while total expenditure was Rs. 316 billion, out of which Rs. 279 billion was spent on the payroll without having to bear the costs of provincial councilors. All in all, the provincial councils had only about Rs. 40 billion to spend on public services,” he said.

“In fact, I know from experience that nothing meaningful could be achieved through provincial councils other than merely being an institution of the central government that distributes chairs, mammoties etc., given by the government where provincial councilors claim to be the benefactors.”

“Provincial councils came to its end of term in April 2019 and five years have lapsed since the defunct of the system. Nevertheless, there is no public outcry to restore the system. PC system has never contributed to making any laws of the country or has never initiated a good programme on its own. So, we urge the political parties to engage in a meaningful discussion in the next six months before the country goes to presidential and parliamentary elections.”

He pointed out that the abolition of the PC system would help reduce the tax burden on the people, and that decision has to be taken well before PC elections are held.

Pasanda added that neither the people in the North of Sri Lanka or the government of India are interested in provincial councils anymore though the system was introduced by then government as a means of power decentralisation in Sri Lanka.”

“India is keen to have an equitable solution to the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka. However, I have reliable information that India doesn’t see provincial councils in the North and East would be an enabler in that quest. So, the abolition of provincial councils won’t trigger any geopolitical tensions with India,” he said.

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HNB Assurance Group surpasses 20% growth mark for the third consecutive year

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HNB Assurance Group recorded yet another year of exceptional performance, marking the third consecutive year of achieving a growth rate exceeding 20% in terms of GWP (Gross Written Premium). The year 2023 witnessed the Group achieving remarkable financial milestones and an array of local and international awards, solidifying its position as a frontrunner in the insurance industry.

HNB Assurance Group recorded a substantial GWP of LKR 18.7 Bn, showcasing a remarkable growth of 20% compared to the previous year. Reflecting on this achievement, Ms. Rose Cooray, Chairperson of HNBA and HNBGI, expressed her delight, stating, “To me personally, the remarkable growth trajectory of the HNB Assurance Group stands as a testament to our commitment to delivering value to our stakeholders. Both teams at HNBA and HNBGI performed an outstanding job, leaving no stone unturned, meticulously analyzing every challenge, and capitalizing on every opportunity. This approach to business was imperative, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic and social upheaval, where we as a nation encountered numerous challenges in diverse forms. In addition to our consistent growth of GWP, over the past three years, we as a group have so much to celebrate. Our Group assets grew by LKR 10 Bn during the year, well exceeding a remarkable total of LKR 51.2 Bn. Further, investment income for the Group surged to LKR 7.2 Bn, representing an outstanding growth of 49% from LKR 4.8 Bn in the preceding year. In terms of the Group’s profits, we recorded a commendable LKR 1.76 Bn in PAT.”

Honoring claims plays a vital role in maintaining the trust for any insurance company, “I am proud to note that the HNB Assurance Group honored claims of LKR 6.6 Bn, showcasing a growth of 19% compared to the previous year, aptly demonstrating our position as a reliable partner during our policyholder’s time of need.” explained Ms. Cooray.

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Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists partners with Morison to address the rising challenge of diabetes

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The team members from the Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists and Morison Ltd, present at the MoU signing

The Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists (SLCE), the leading authority at the forefront of diabetes management and education in Sri Lanka, has announced a collaborative partnership with Morison Ltd, a pioneer in the Sri Lankan pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, to launch a certificate training program for primary healthcare professionals on diabetes management.

Sri Lanka faces a growing epidemic in diabetes, with an estimated prevalence of one in five Sri Lankans living with diabetes. Primary healthcare doctors are often the first point of contact for patients with diabetes, hence equipping them with specialized knowledge and skills is crucial for early diagnosis, effective management, and preventing complications. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between SLCE and Morison on 13th February 2024, reflects a shared commitment to bridge this gap in diabetes expertise and establish primary care as the first line of defence.

The course content developed and delivered by the SLCE, features an evidence-based curriculum, combining theoretical knowledge with practical applications, ensuring participants receive up-to-date knowledge that adheres to the latest Clinical Practice Guidelines and international standards. The program aims to empower primary healthcare professionals to deliver comprehensive diabetes care in their daily practice, including therapeutics, lifestyle counselling, and complication prevention, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes and reduced burden on the healthcare system. The course, spanning four months, is now open for registrations for the first intake, and the collaboration aims to conduct two such programs per annum.

Dedicated to advancing endocrinology and diabetes care in Sri Lanka, the SLCE spearheads numerous initiatives to educate healthcare professionals on best practices in diabetes management. Dr. Niranjala Meegoda Widanege, President of the Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists stated, “Equipping our primary healthcare doctors with specialized diabetes knowledge and skills is essential to tackle the growing epidemic effectively. This training program marks a significant step forward in ensuring accessible and quality diabetes care for all Sri Lankans.”

Dinesh Athapaththu, Managing Director, Morison Ltd commenting on the partnership added, “We are pleased to collaborate with the SLCE to bring this meaningful initiative to life. With a patient-centric approach across our value chain, we believe our latest efforts with the SLCE reflects our commitment to deliver a refreshing difference at a time it is most needed by the nation.”

Staying true to their purpose of “Making Premium Healthcare Affordable”, Morison strives to play a major role in the fight against diabetes by bringing the latest therapies closer to the nation with an offering that stands distinctively different with the best of quality and price.

Morison is a truly Sri Lankan pharmaceutical manufacturing company, with a rich legacy of over 60 years of industrial expertise. Their new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Homagama, is the largest investment to date in the local pharma manufacturing industry. Being the country’s largest pharma manufacturing facility for general tablets and liquids, it is also the first such facility in Sri Lanka to comply to European Union Good Manufacturing Practices (EU GMP) specifications.

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