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2000 government employees have gone abroad

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Nearly 2,000 public sector employees have opted to obtain extended leave for a five-year period to travel overseas for employment.

The scheme was introduced last year in view of an unprecedented move to tackle the economic crisis and reduce government spending.

Public sector officers were allowed to utilise this no-pay leave to work abroad, receive vocational training, or improve their language and IT skills.

Since the introduction of this circular, a total of 1988 public sector employees have already received approval to pursue foreign employment, data issued by the Ministry of Public Administration show.

“It is worth noting that this leave period will still count as a period of service for the purposes of calculating seniority and pension. However, it is important to note that the provisions of this circular will not apply to executive grade officers who have not been confirmed in their position,” a senior Ministry official said.

He said the majority of public sector employees who had been granted leave with no pay under the special provisions had sought employment in various fields abroad. “The most popular sectors among them include teaching, healthcare, law, security, transport, IT, and construction.”

Such public sector employees would be required to remit money to a Non-Resident Foreign Currency Account (NRFC) opened in their own name, he said.

In terms of the circular, the amount required to be remitted will depend on the officer’s service category, with officers of the Primary Service Category required to remit USD 100 a month, officers of the Secondary Service Category USD 200 a month, officers of the Tertiary Service Category USD 300 a month, and officers of the Executive Service Category USD 500 a month.

It also stated that officers employed abroad under this circular could remit the above amount or 25% of their salary, whichever was higher. A concessionary period of two months from the date of departure will be given for remittance, and it must be made from the third month onwards.

A recent Right to Information (RTI) request made by the Sunday Times revealed that as of March 03, 2023 only 534 government sector employees had registered through the survey portal of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) under the special circular allowing public officers to take leave without pay.

There were about 1.5 million public sector workers in Sri Lanka, according to the Department of Statistics.

There have been concerns about the low efficiency of most of these public sector institutions, which has led to calls for reform and restructuring of these organisations. This could include measures to improve the skills and training of public sector employees, as well as efforts to reduce bureaucracy and streamline processes, experts have suggested.

The World Bank and other policy analysis organisations have conducted various studies on the country’s public sector efficiency and effectiveness over the years. These studies have highlighted issues such as low capacity, lack of accountability, and bureaucratic inefficiencies that have hindered the productivity and performance of the public sector.

(Sunday Times)

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5 years marked since the Easter Sunday bombings

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Today (April 21) marks 05 years since the brutal Easter Sunday bombings in 2019.

All churches across Sri Lanka will observe 02 minutes of silence at 8:45 am today (21) to remember those lost in the attacks.

Several memorial events centering the St. Anthony’s church in Kochchikade and the St. Sebastian’s church in Katuwapitiya will be held.

Police spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa says that security has been beefed up to areas where memorial services are being held.

In 2019, a spate of bombings that took place across the country claimed 273 lives while injuring hundreds.

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Govt to give preference for green vehicles

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Sri Lanka may consider lifting the import ban of motor vehicles next year as the country’s economic situation is improving with foreign reserves almost reaching USD 5 billion, said Chief of Staff to the President, Sagala Ratnayake.

“As the country’s economic landscape has improved, the ‘would be’ import bill for motor vehicles is not a big amount that the country should worry about. “But our concern is the protection of the local motor industry which is now making great progress.”

He told a press conference on Wednesday, that the Government may give preference towards the import of Green vehicles. “However, the local infrastructure should be developed first, as one doesn’t see many charging stations in and outside Colombo.”

He said that in Singapore there is a permit system and when a vehicle is over ten years old it is re-exported which ensures that a new vehicle fleet remains in the country. “Sri Lanka too has to follow a similar model for the motor industry.”

Ratnayake said that the high earning tourism industry is given all the assistance as it is being identified as an industry that could take the country to the next level.

The Government has already given permission to import 750 vans and 250 buses to be used for the tourism industry.

Similarly, the maritime sector too has been identified as a key area and this is the reason the Government is investing millions of dollars to upgrade and expand them. “The current geo-politics involving the Red Sea has already given the Port more business and revenue.”

He said that the proposed bridge between India and Sri Lanka too would be a major game changer for Sri Lanka’s economy as it will create more commodities to flow between the two countries.

“This will certainly help reduce some of the food prices in Sri Lanka and create more employment opportunities.”

Ratnayake said that the tax revenue collection is on track and the Government may soon explore the possibility of increasing the Rs. 100,000 tax threshold to a higher level.

(sundayobserver.lk)

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Easter Sunday bombings : Rs. 295 mn. paid as compensation

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The annual reports of the Office of Reparations have revealed that over Rs. 295 million (295,499,069) have been paid as compensation to victims and property damage of the Sunday Easter bombings.

Under this, Rs. 273,747,000  have been paid as compensation for 719 victims while Rs. 21,752,069 have been paid as compensation for property damages.

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