Sri Lanka Approves Incentives To Businesses At Colombo Port City

Sri Lanka’s cabinet approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, to grant incentives to businesses with strategic importance that will commence operation at the Colombo Port City, a spokesman said here today.

Cabinet spokesman, Bandula Gunawardena, told reporters that, the Port City is an important part of Sri Lanka’s attempts to attract foreign investment, which is crucial to stabilising and modernising the economy.

Spanning 269 hectares of reclaimed land from the sea, the Port City will comprise five precincts, including the Financial District, Central Park Living, Island Living, the Marina and the International Island.

Primary and secondary businesses that are strategically important to the Port City have been identified, according to Gunawardena.

Source: Nam News Network (NNN)

How COVID-19 halted labor migration

The COVID-19 pandemic brought international migration to a standstill — and migrant workers have borne the greatest cost. But Bangladeshi workers are doing surprisingly well.

Abul Basar has been in Saudi Arabia for 14 years now. After failing to find a suitable job in Bangladesh, he tried his luck as a migrant worker in the oil-rich desert state in order to support his family in Bangladesh, first in Riyadh, later in Jeddah. Most recently, he worked as a plumber at a water treatment plant in Al Qasim province. Then the coronavirus hit.

As of today, Basar is one of approximately 260 million migrants worldwide whose labor contributes to a major redistribution of capital to lower-income regions of the world. Ninety percent of what he earns — 2,000 Saudi riyals ($533, €498) a month — he sends home to support his family of four people.

More than half of all migrant workers are from South, East and Southeast Asia. They make up around 20% of the workforce in Western, Northern and Southern Europe — and the US. In the Gulf states, it's around 41%.

Europe, the US, and the Gulf States are particularly important destinations for migrant workers and the source of most remittances (dark blue on the map).

Remittances: The economic stabilizer

With their remittances, migrant workers don't just provide for their families. They also stabilize entire national economies. In Zimbabwe, Georgia, Nicaragua and Senegal, remittances account for more than 10% of the national economy. In El Salvador, Gambia, Jamaica and Nepal, it's more than 20% and in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan it's around 30%.

North and sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Central America benefit particularly from remittances.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this model appeared to be in jeopardy. Lockdowns and job losses threatened to choke off the steady flow of capital transfers. In April 2020, World Bank experts estimated that migrants would send $129 billion less back home in the first year of the pandemic — a 20% drop.

In reality, payments recovered quickly after a brief, sharp drop. Currencies of key emerging economies such as Brazil, South Africa and Turkey depreciated sharply at the onset of the pandemic while remittances from dollar and euro economies grew in value. A large number of migrant workers also likely drew on savings in order to support their families back home, despite losing their jobs.

"Usually I send around 500,000 BDT ($5,775; €5,450) a year to my family," Abul Basar said.

But this has changed during the pandemic. Over the last two years, he tried to send more money to his family.

"In 2021, my father was infected with COVID-19 and his treatment cost over 100,000 BDT. Compromising my savings that year, I sent more than 600,000 BDT to my family for bearing their extra cost."

The 'employment gap' with the local population

So the pandemic led to a greater financial burden and to severe cuts for migrant workers. Seasonal and migrant workers in particular, who had little legal protection, quickly lost their jobs. The unemployment rate also rose among the local population in many countries. But migrant workers were more affected by layoffs. In some countries with many seasonal workers, such as Hungary, Spain and Italy, a migrant worker was 50% more likely to be unemployed compared to a local worker.

According to the International Labor Organization, a UN institution, the reason for migrant workers being more likely unemployed than the local population is that they often work in the precarious, low-wage sectors. These include industries hit particularly hard by the pandemic, such as catering, tourism, culture, retail and construction.

The true unemployment figures are likely even higher when you consider migrants who left the country due to job losses and therefore aren't counted in the statistics.

India alone counted 6.1 million stranded workers who had to be flown home on charter flights when the pandemic hit. Thailand, Nepal, Malaysia, Sri Lanka also saw hundreds of thousands leave the country, in many cases due to layoffs. The ILO says the situation in South America and Africa was similar. Migrant workers in the Arab Gulf states were affected even more.

It's unknown whether these people will be able to return to the countries where they were working anytime soon. While at the beginning of the pandemic, virtually all countries in the world closed borders to prevent travel, migration policies have varied since then: Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa quickly lifted regulations, while other European ones such as Spain and Italy tightened travel restrictions after COVID numbers increased.

Vaccination rules have also made entry more difficult. The US, EU, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and especially Saudi Arabia not only require proven vaccination against COVID-19. At least for some time, they rejected certain vaccines produced in China, deeming them insufficient. But these were frequently used in South and Southeast Asia.

The 'Saudization' of Saudi Arabia

The restrictive policy in the gulf in particular could be due to the so-called Saudization of the economy. Underway since 2018, the government initiative requires companies to "increase the proportion of Saudi nationals in their workforce," with penalties for "firms with low percentages of Saudi workers and 'redundant' foreign workers," a study of human rights organization FairSquare Project described. The Saudi health sector, for example, has to achieve an employment quota for locals between 30% and 60%.

"Firms above the quota are granted benefits, while those below face restrictions for expat hiring," a study by Harvard University's Center for International Development indicates.

Throughout the pandemic, discrimination against foreign workers was made even worse by demonization in the media. Many reports alleged that migrant workers were driving up infection rates.

Labor migration out of Bangladesh, however, only took a short term hit from restrictions such as those in Saudi Arabia. The number of workers going abroad decreased by more than two-thirds from 2019 to 2020, the Bangladeshi Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training documented. But since 2021, the number has risen again sharply.

For three years running, Bangladesh has broken the record for highest remittance inflows ever seen in its history. According to official estimates, the workers sent back over $22 billion in 2021.

According to Dr. Zahid Hussain, formerly lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office, there are two special factors behind the recent record remittance inflow in Bangladesh. First, migrant workers likely sent more remittances through unofficial channels than the legal ones.

"Because of the complete disruption of unofficial channels during the pandemic time, they have been forced to choose the latter one," Hussain said.

Many also transferred their savings to Bangladesh amid fear of losing their jobs.

"Some may have returned to the country with all their savings because they did not have a job," he said. "This may help boost the remittance inflow of the last two years."

Source: Deutsche Welle

Over 5,000 cases of banking fraud, financial crime registered in Kathmandu Valley

A total of 5,312 cases related to banking fraud and financial crime have been registered in Kathmandu Valley.

According to the District Police Range, Kathmandu, the highest cases have been registered in banking fraud and financial crime in Kathmandu Valley in current fiscal year.

Spokesperson of the Range and Superintendent of Police, Sitaram Rijal, said out of 9,256 cases registered in Kathmandu Valley in the current fiscal year, more than half are of banking fraud and financial crime.

He shared most of the cases under banking fraud and financial crimes are related to cheque bounce, dollar exchange, and lottery in recent period.

Range Chief Senior Superintendent of Police Dan Bahadur Karki mentioned that around 35-40 cases related to baking fraud and financial crime are registered in the Range every day, adding cases of banking fraud and organised and financial crime have increased in Kathmandu Valley in recent period.

Source: National News Agency-Nepal

Shakib to play LPL for the first time in his career

Bangladesh ace allrounder Shakib Al Hasan is all

set to play the Lankan Premier League (LPL), a Sri Lanka-based franchise T20

tournament for the first time in his career as he was signed up by Galle

Gladiators.

The franchise roped him in on a direct contract, according to the report by

the Sri Lankan media.

Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa will be Shakib's

teammate in the Galle Gladiators.

Sans Sri Lankan T20 tournament, Shakib had already appeared almost all

renowned domestic T20 tournaments across the world.

Alongside Shakib, Liton Das and Afif Hossain are the two others players from

Bangladesh to be included in the draft of the tournament last month. A total

of five teams will participate in this season of LPL with the auction on June

11.

Since the teams have the chance to recruit player on direct contract, they

took the opportunity to bolster their strength. Sri Lanka's star all-rounder

Wanindu Hasaranga has been signed by Kandy Falcons while South African batter

David Miller will play for Jaffna Kings. Pakistan captain Babar Azam will

play for Colombo Strikers, according to reports.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Bangladesh A reach 175-5 on rain-hit 1st day

Bangladesh batters put up yet another mediocre

batting show before reaching 175-5 against West Indies A on day one of the

second unofficial Test, hit by rain at the Academy ground of the Sylhet

Cricket Stadium today.

The toss was delayed due to the rain and only 49 overs were possible.

The visitors won the toss and put Bangladesh into batting first but the hosts

had a horrible start with opener Shadman Islam being retired hurt due to

injury. The extent of his injury is yet to be known.

Shadman made only 11 before his opening partner Zakir Hasan perished to 13

ball-18.

Captain Afif Hossain and Saif Hasan appeared to play a long innings but they

too failed to count the start. Afif made team-high 37 on day one while Saif

was dismissed on 31.

Irfan Shukkur who was included in to the squad at the eleventh hour was the

other one to get a start. However, he fell for 21.

Shahadat Hossain Dipu was batting on 28 with Nayeem Hasan on 12 at stumps.

Akeem Jordan and Kevin Sinclaire took two wickets apiece for West Indies A

while Anderson Phillip picked up one wicket.

The first unofficial Test between the two sides ended in a draw after being

thoroughly dominated by the visitors.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Bashundhara finish third

Bashundhara Kings finished third position in the

Federation Cup football as they came from behind beat Sheikh Russel Krira

Chakra by 2-1 goals in the place-deciding match held today (Tuesday) at

Bashundhara Sports Complex in the city.

In the day's match, Brazilian forward Robson and his compatriot Miguel

Figueira scored one each for Bashundhara while Ivorian midfielder Kpehi

Didier Brossou netted a lone goal for Sheikh Russel. The winners', however,

trailed the first half by 0-1 goal.

Didier put Sheikh Russel ahead early converting a spot kick in the eighth

minute while after the breather Bashundhara staged a brilliant fight back in

the match as Robson equalized the margin in the 85th minute.

Midfielder Miguel sealed the victory scoring the second goal for Bashundhara

in the 90+1st minute of the match.

The final of the Federation Cup will be held on May 30 at Shaheed

Dhirendranath Datta Stadium in Cumilla.

Earlier, Bashundhara Kings went down a 1-2 goal defeat to Mohammedan Sporting

Club Limited in the first semifinal while Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra suffered

a 0-3 goal defeat to Abahani Limited Dhaka in the second semis.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

National Conference on Comprehensive Sexual Education in offing

The First National Conference on comprehensive sexual education is going to be held in the federal capital, Kathmandu, on May 24 and 25 around the theme, 'Proceeding ahead extensive sexual education to attain SDG 2030'.

It is expected that the National Conference will contribute towards the effective implementation of the various national and international policies and commitments such as the International Conference on Population and Development held in 1994, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2015, the UN resolution 2250 related to youth, peace and security, the UN resolution 1325 related to women, peace and security, the Constitution of Nepal, the National Youth Policy, Youth Vision 2025, the School Education Sector Plan 2022-23 and 2031-32.

The Conference will bring together around 300 national and international participants. The conclave will see the presentation of working papers on various topics related to extensive sexuality education in several sessions. There will also be a poster show.

The Conference will wrap up by issuing the Kathmandu Declaration. It is to be jointly organized by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health and Population with the financial and technical support of UNFPA, the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) and the non-governmental organisations working in the comprehensive sexual education sector.

FPAN said discussions will be held in the Conference on access of youth to age-appropriate, scientific and rights-based comprehensive sexual education, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, ensuring the rights of minority groups, superstitious beliefs and practices, violence, child marriage, youth's exodus to foreign countries, teenager and youth-friendly services and environment, and various youth-targeted national policies and their effective implementation.

Source: National News Agency-Nepal

One dies, another gets injury in motorcycle accident

A person died and another one got injury in a motorcycle accident occurred in Pokhara this morning.

Pillion rider Safal Khatiwada, 18, injured seriously in the incident died while being treated, District Police Office, Kaski said, adding that motorcycle rider Sangam Baniya, 17, got injuries on head and neck.

Baniya is from Tharpu of Myagde Rural Municipality-4, Tanahu.

Police rescued them and sent to Metro City Hospital for treatment.

The motorcycle (Ga 24 Pa 310) lost control, thereby meeting accident while going to Gairakochautara from Hallanchowk, Pokhara Metropolitan City-6. The motorcycle is impounded by the police.

Investigation into the accident is underway.

Source: National News Agency-Nepal

IFRC Secretary General congratulates climber Sherpa

Mingmar Sherpa, a resident of Taikub from Soludhudhkunda Municipality-1 in Solukhumbu district, has scaled the Mt Everest successfully. He reached atop Everest on May 16, according to Nepal Red Cross Society.

Climber Sherpa had hoisted the Red Cross' flag. The Red Cross' flag was handed over to him by Nepal Red Cross Solukhumbu chapter before expedition.

Meanwhile, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the International Federation of Red Cross Societies, Jagan Chapagain, congratulated climber Sherpa.

"I heartily appreciate untiring efforts, and diligence of climber Sherpa who scaled Mt Everest. I congratulate and extend special thanks to him for hoisting Red Cross' flag. It has inspired Red Cross for further activism on volunteerism and humanitarian service," Chapagain mentioned in social media post.

Even the Country Representative of IFRC in Nepal congratulated climber Sherpa on his feat.

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Source: National News Agency-Nepal

Storm damages lemon farm

The storm occurred for some days has damaged lemon farming at Asapani of Byas Municipality-13 in Tanahu district.

The storm damaged the commercial farming of lemon done by local Raju Regmi in 26 ropanies of land. Three-hundred trees of lemon were destroyed by the adverse weather.

Regmi said, "The garden has turned a mess with damaged lemon trees. It is a severe dent in my plan to do commercial farming of lemon."

Regmi who returned Nepal after four years' toil in South Korea had launched commercial farming. He also invested Rs 3.5 million so for. He had sold the lemon worth half million rupees and planned for the sale of Rs 2.5 million this year, but in vain.

He further shared that plight that the lemon trees were fully damaged. His plight was not heard and addressed by any government agency, he rued.

However, chief of agriculture knowledge centre, Kul Prasad Tiwari, admitted that vegetable farming was damaged in various parts of district. The centre was receiving detailed information on the damage. After evaluating the loss, the government would provide compensation to the farmers.

"We share information to all agencies about the damages and farmers' plights. If the farmers are not compensated well, they would face the condition to leave the occupation," Tiwari added.

He stressed the need for retaining youths in agriculture.

Meanwhile, Byas Municipality has begun collecting details on loss and damage caused by hailstorm, said Mayor Baikuntha Neupane.

Source: National News Agency-Nepal

Independent, responsible media is indispensable in democracy: Dr Hasan

Information and Broadcasting Minister and Awami League (AL) Joint General Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud today said independent, transparent and responsible media is conducive to economic uplift and indispensable for a democratic society.

"Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, now Bangladesh is a unique example of expansion of independent media and economic development and giving an institutional shape to democracy," he said.

Dr Hasan said these while addressing a minister-level session titled "Role of Media in Economic Reform' on the inaugural day of the 18th Asia Media Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) is organising the three-day conference with the theme "Media Enhancing Economic Sustainability".

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, Myanmar's Information Minister Maung Maung Ohn, Samoa's Communication and Information Technology Minister Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo and Fiji's Assistant Minister Sakiusa Tubuna addressed the session.

Dr Hasan Mahmud said media has been playing an important role in economic recovery across the globe following the situation induced by coronavirus pandemic and Ukraine war.

In Bangladesh, media has also been playing a crucial role to make the people aware by presenting different initiatives and policies taken by the government in facing the situation, he mentioned.

Media reports on opportunities and advantages of investment in Bangladesh are also playing a role to attract foreign investors, he said.

He said Media is also encouraging and enhancing self-confidence of entrepreneurs by making reports on small and medium enterprises.

Dr Hasan said media plays an important role in expansion of trade and dissemination of thoughts and innovative plans across the globe as well as it increases responsibility of the government.

That is why, Bangladesh government gave license to around 1500 newspapers, several dozens of television channels and radios so that media can play role in economic reformation by increasing transparency and making people aware about economic issues through providing objective information.

He hoped that the government and media will work together in building prosperous future for Bangladesh, Asia Pacific region or the entire world.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Nearly 60,000 Bangladeshi tourists visit Malaysia last year: envoy

Malaysian leisure industry recorded more than 10 million tourists’ arrivals in 2022 while out of that 59,000 were originated from Bangladesh, Malaysian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Haznah Md Hashim has said.

“The tourism sector has emerged as a vital component of this bilateral relation, acting as a bridge to bring our people closer and allowing us to experience the unique beauty and diversity each nation has to offer,” she said.

The envoy was speaking at a B2B tourism networking session of "Roadshow to Bangladesh" organized by Tourism Malaysia at a city hotel here on Sunday evening.

Over the years, the high commissioner said, the two brotherly nations have worked closely together to enhance trade, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people connections.

"This is acting as a bridge to bring our people closer and allow us to experience the unique beauty and diversity each nation has to offer," she added.

With respect to Bangladeshi tourists, leisure tourism plays a significant role in attracting them to Malaysia.

The High Commissioner said Malaysia, Truly Asia, offers the Bangladeshi travelers a perfect blend of natural landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage – which is a multitude of experiences for every traveler.

The Tourism Malaysia Roadshow serves as a platform to showcase the immense potential of our partnership and the opportunities that lie ahead, she said.

"It is a testament to the dedication of the Malaysian government in promoting tourism and strengthening the ties between our nations. Through this Roadshow, we aim to highlight the range of tourism offerings in Malaysia, from leisure and medical tourism to educational opportunities," said the High Commissioner.

The envoy said Malaysia and Bangladesh share many cultural, traditional, and culinary similarities, which is why Malaysia is a popular destination for Bangladesh tourists.

"And Halal food has never been an issue in Malaysia. Besides this, we are also encouraging our trade partners to develop and sell more holiday packages to Malaysia with a special focus on niche products like medical tourism, luxury travel, and spa as well as Education tourism," she said.

In recent years, she said Malaysia has witnessed a growing trend in medical tourism, with an increasing number of Bangladeshi patients seeking healthcare services in Malaysia.

Furthermore, she said, Malaysia has also emerged as an educational hub, attracting students from Bangladesh who seek world-class education in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha