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Economic sectors at risk from departures of 14,000 professionals



The growing exodus of professionals and skilled workers to foreign countries will threaten the quality of services provided to the public, experts warn.

Statistics reveal that the country’s heading towards a major brain drain with 14,307 professionals leaving the country last year compared with 2,957 professionals in 2020 and 8,373 in 2021.

According to the Bureau of Foreign Employment, the majority of the professionals were between 30 years and 39 years of age.

Last year also saw 8,130 middle level employees leaving the country. Over 12,000 clerical staff have left, while only 2,400 left in 2020.

In 2022, 92,836 skilled workers left the country compared with the 40,000 in 2021. A majority of them were between 25 years and 44 years of age.

The Association of Medical Specialists said the Government should immediately intervene to retain young specialists, while increasing the retirement age of consultants.

The association’s media secretary Dr. Asoka Gunaratne said out of the trained 30 consultant emergency physicians, 20 have left the country.

“The only paediatric radiology specialist in the country has emigrated. About 70-80% who go for consultant training to the UK and Australia do not return,” he said.

He said the Government’s decision to raise the retirement age of specialist consultant doctors to 63 years is needed at a time when huge numbers of young specialists are leaving the country.

“If they (Government) fails to increase the age limit, about 600 consultants will retire. The country is already short of about 2,000 consultants,” he said.

Dr. Gunaratne said lack of good accommodation, limited private practice opportunities and no school facilities for children, are causing frustration among young specialists serving in rural hospitals.

Prof. Bharana Jayawardena, president of the Federation of Teachers’ Associations said universities are at risk of losing 1st or 2nd uppers in universities as probationary lecturers.

“People are reluctant to sign sureties for PhD scholarship students as they doubt whether the students will return to the country. Even those who return stay for 2-3 years and consider emigration,” he said.

He said lecturers of medical faculties in universities away from Colombo are grabbing every opportunity to emigrate.

“There are a number of vacancies in vet, agriculture faculties as well, that could have an impact on the country’s agriculture, livestock sectors in the coming years,” Prof. Jayawardena said.

He said the government should increase investment in higher education, such as research grants for universities, provide flexible transfers and facilitate school admission for their children.

At a recent Committee of Public Account (COPA) meeting in Parliament, Government Analyst Deepika Seneviratne highlighted that there are 25 vacancies because scientific officers have gone overseas, triggering delays in reports. She said contract staff have to be hired to complete accumulated reports.

General secretary of Ceylon Bank Employees Union Ranjan Senanayake said over 1,000 employees in both the private and state bank sector have left the country.

“Those emigrating already have 10-15 years experience. Many are not seeing a future for their children here,” he said.



Presidential poll will be held first as scheduled: President affirms




President Ranil Wickremesinghe affirmed that the Presidential election will be held as scheduled with the General Elections anticipated to be held early next year, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

The President gave this assurance during a meeting with the representatives of the United Republic Front headed by by its leader Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka at Sirikotha today.

The United Republic Front presented a proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning (24), at ‘Srikotha’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo.

After engaging in discussions with the President, the leader of the United Republic Front, Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, along with his delegation, presented this proposal to the President.

Speaking at the event, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. 

Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda on behalf of the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by MP Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debts.

United National Party Deputy Leader and President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change, Ruwan Wijewardena, along with Secretary General of the United National Party Palitha Range Bandara were also in attendance at the event. 

Representing the United Republic Front were Karu Paranavithana, Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe and Attorney-at-Law, Shiral Lakthilaka.


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Dedicated SLBFE office to be established in Kegalle district




In response to a joint request from the Kegalle Migrant Workers Committee and the Kegalle District political authority, Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara has assured the establishment of a dedicated Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) office in Kegalle District.

The request was presented during the Jayagamu Sri Lanka program organized by the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment in Kegalle. 

The Committee emphasized the need for an SLBFE office in the district, which has the highest number of migrant workers in Sabaragamuwa Province.

Commending the Minister for his prompt action in establishing a new SLBFE office in Nuwara Eliya District following a similar request, the Committee expressed confidence in his swift response to their current appeal. 

Minister Nanayakkara pledged immediate steps to open an SLBFE office in Kegalle and instructed officials from the Ministry and SLBFE to take the necessary actions for its swift establishment. 

This move aims to enhance support and services for migrant workers in the district.

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Parliamentary committee demands CBSL report on salary hike amid criticism




Amidst growing criticism over the substantial salary hike for Central Bank employees, a key parliamentary committee has taken action, demanding a report from the Central Bank regarding the legal basis for such an increment without parliamentary approval.

Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis, MP Gamini Waleboda, disclosed that the issue was raised during a committee meeting where Central Bank officials were present.

The Central Bank is now expected to submit a comprehensive report on the salary increment in the coming week. Following the submission, the Sectoral Oversight Committee intends to summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board for further examination.

MP Waleboda highlighted that the committee expressed strong criticism of the 70% salary increase for Central Bank employees, especially given the ongoing economic crisis, deeming it an immoral act.

“We instructed the Central Bank to provide a report by next week to justify the salary increase. They will need to provide the legal provisions that empower them to effect such an increment. We will summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board after receiving the report,” stated MP Waleboda.

Both government and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have voiced objections to the Central Bank’s decision to raise the salary scales by 70%, with Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella asserting that the Central Bank Act lacks provisions for such salary increases without parliamentary approval, deeming it illegal.

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