Ranaviru Day Message of H.E the President

Ranaviru Day Message (Sinhala)

Ranaviru Day Message (Tamil)


Foreign Ministry and Foreign Missions contribute to COVID-19 Fund

The Ministry of Foreign Relations handed over Rs. 27.7 million to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday (May 14th), raised through the network of Sri Lanka Missions overseas, to support COVID-19 Health Care and Social Security Fund.

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha handed over the cheque to the President, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena at the Presidential Secretariat.

The unprecedented response by the Sri Lankan community members, associations and well-wishers overseas despite Read More »


Foreign Secretary appeals to OSLs to rethink plans to be repatriated unless in compelling circumstances

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has called on migrant workers as well as students and parents, to carefully calibrate the effect repatriation at this time could have on their jobs and education, before making decisions to seek to return to Sri Lanka, availing of the limited flights being operated by the Government for those facing compelling circumstances. He made this observation yesterday (16 May 2020) in an appearance on the ‘News at 9’ on Sri Lanka Rupavahini, where he noted that over 38,000 Sri Lankans are seeking to be repatriated, of that nearly 28,000 migrant workers. The comments made by the Secretary are below;

Priority right now of the Government following the Cabinet Paper presented by my Minister Dinesh Gunawardena two weeks ago, is to bring back the migrant worker category which needs to come, but more so in some cases have to come. Because they have gone out of status and are illegal, they also as a result of being illegal do not have access to the health facilities and anything else in those countries. There are many who have been thrown out of jobs. They are pretty much destitute. Thereafter we can consider those who want to come, but who have jobs and who simply want to come on holiday to avoid any Corona vulnerability.

Our plea to these employees, as we did to students some time ago, is to ask them to carefully calibrate the possible loss of jobs or loss of educational opportunity or major delays which can occur from their coming. Because in students, we particularly find that in some places, one set of parents want children to come, another set of parents want children to stay and finish their exams. So, while I know these are personal choices alright, I think there must be some rationality in doing this. Because from the Foreign Ministry perspectives, we are working very hard to get them back today, but I know that one month, two months from now, we will once again be asked to try to reconcile their status as students, when there are difficulties for them to get back or lose out on semester. It is the same with those who lose their employment.

So as much as the Foreign Ministry and the Government is trying to bring back people, that these people who are wanting to return, make a very careful assessment of their essential needs, as against just wanting to come for the short term. This may not be the best time to use this limited window and have to go into quarantine for 21 days when they come here as well.

We are going to try as much as possible to ensure that those who stay back are assisted to the extent possible, particularly the most vulnerable through the various networks of our 67 Missions, 16 where SLBFE is also present, to try and provide dry rations and where necessary medicines so that the problems they face are managed out there where they are.

As for those on short term visits, we have to bring them back. They have nowhere to go. We are conscious of that. The difficulty to some extent is the fact that they are spread all over and Sri Lankan Airlines, even cargo flights which now are flying, are not flying out to many of these capitals. So, while we are integrating them in flights already coming, how we bring them all back is a matter which is at the moment being discussed at the highest levels.

 

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

17 May 2020






Sri Lanka Missions abroad seek to re-position Sri Lanka’s exports to meet market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 crisis

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has observed that even as the Foreign Ministry was preoccupied with endeavouring to mitigate a multitude of problems faced by Overseas Sri Lankans, it was in parallel also seeking to re-position Sri Lanka’s exports in the context of market conditions that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. He said if this was successful, Sri Lanka would emerge one step ahead in the global supply chain, in a post COVID-19 world.

The Foreign Secretary made these observations earlier this week in an appearance on the Sri Lanka Rupavahini’s ‘Ethera Methara’ programme. Commenting on the efforts by Sri Lanka’s network of 67 Missions and Consulate-General Offices abroad in promoting Sri Lanka’s exports during these constrained times, he said the Ministry’s traditional ‘Economic Diplomacy Programme’ led by the Economic Affairs Division, has been modified to accommodate the changed circumstances.

It is noted that the Ministry of Foreign Relations, together with the Export Development Board (EDB) and Sri Lankan Missions abroad, are continuing to explore access for Sri Lankan products into new markets, to support the government’s economic plan in sustaining the economy during the pandemic and mitigating the economic downturn in its aftermath. Informed by weekly updates provided by Missions abroad on the evolving world markets as well as prevailing procedures, requirements and restrictions in their countries  of accreditation, in the background of COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative has thus far facilitated in connecting Sri Lankan exporters with importers in ten countries with regard to tea, spices, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), rubber gloves, face masks, reusable masks, surgical masks, surgical caps, surgical gowns, sanitary tissues, processed food, fruits and vegetables, spices and seafood.

Additional Secretary, Economic Affairs P.M. Amza notes that, to date 56 market updates have been filed by Sri Lanka missions abroad and all of them have been uploaded in the EDB website, which can be accessed at https://www.edb.gov.lk/marketalerts. The summary of the market updates received so far revealed that there is demand for Ceylon Tea from 21 countries (including orders amounting to 336 MT to Turkey, 100 MT to Egypt and 25 MT to Libya, materialized during the last two weeks), face masks from 25 countries, protective gowns from 15 countries, PPE from 13 countries and rubber gloves from 15 countries. There are also demands for food and vegetables from 13 countries.

The Ministry is also working with Sri Lanka Tea Board in expediting the process of authentication of export documents, in respect of tea consignments to various destinations in Middle East and Turkey, as well as several other products. Recognizing the difficulties faced by exporters the Ministry is also formally pursuing requests with the Customs and other relevant agencies in significant export destinations to facilitate the clearance of relevant documents of Sri Lankan exporters. Several Colombo based Diplomatic Missions have also cooperated in this endeavour by taking appropriate measures to also authenticate export documents.

Additionally, the Ministry is also supporting Sri Lanka Tourism in the facilitation required for over 12,000 foreign tourists who have chosen to remain in Sri Lanka, despite the present COVID-19 pandemic and the prevailing curfews in many parts of the country. This includes over 4000 tourists from Western countries, notwithstanding the continuance of commercial as well as charter flights to return home. Visas for tourists in Sri Lanka were automatically extended in the face of the crisis situation, up to 12 May, 2020.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

23 April 2020


Facilitation of outward remittances to Sri Lankan students and those on short term visits abroad

1.      With regard to foreign remittances, on 19th March 2020 Foreign Exchange Department of the Central Bank issued a directive to Authorized Dealers on Release of Foreign Currency Notes for Travel Purposes with a ceiling of USD 5,000. (Annex I). Please note that this is not applicable and/or arisen in the context of persons who have already left Sri Lanka for short term visits.

 

  1. Therefore, persons who have gone abroad for studies (under student or equivalent visas) or for medical purposes or on their behalf, persons in Sri Lanka are permitted to remit funds from Sri Lanka to cover expenses of university/tuition/training fees, living expenses, medical charges or as any related fees etc. through Authorized Dealers, that is already permitted as Current transactions under the Foreign Exchange Act (FEA).
  1. Further, on 9th April 2020 Central Bank issued a Press Release on ” The Government and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Introduce Further Measures to Preserve the Foreign Currency Reserve Position of Sri Lanka” (Annex II) which also clearly states that suspension is only on foreign currency remittances pertaining to capital transactions and NOT current transactions, (i.e. for educational and medical purposes, living expenses, etc.)
  1. Persons who have gone abroad for pursuing education (i.e. students) are recognized as persons resident in Sri Lanka for the purposes of FEA. Accordingly, such students can obtain Electronic Fund Transfer Cards (EFTCs) (i.e. credit/ debit cards) from Authorized Dealers in terms of the Directions issued under FEA to that effect.
  1. If anyone stranded abroad need to get his/her credit limit enhanced, it is a decision of the respective Authorized Dealer and there are no credit limits imposed under FEA on EFTCs.
  1. Persons who have gone abroad for short term purposes (other than the persons who have migrated or those who have left SL for employment abroad) are permitted to obtain EFTCs from ADs for making payments in foreign exchange to persons resident outside Sri Lanka in respect of personal nature current transactions.
  1. Foreign currency earners who have to repay loans in foreign currency and whose incomes have been adversely affected due to the Covid-19 outbreak can obtain a three (03) months postponement of repayment of loans. These borrowers should contact the respective banks before 30 April 2020.

Sri Lanka High commission in Canberra

22 April 2020



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