In his address at the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) held on 21 January 2021 under the theme “New Normal and Safe and Healthy Tourism”, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated that Sri Lanka opened its borders after much consultation, preparation following best practices, keeping safety and security of its citizens as paramount and that of the visitors. The Ministerial meeting was preceded by a Senior Officials Meeting held on 19 January 2021.
The island paradise that everyone loves opens to welcome visitors from all over the world on the 21st of January 2021. Get ready to explore "So Sri Lanka" by trekking up to the misty mountains for breathtaking views, hopping on the back of a jeep for a wild safari ride, savoring mouthwatering local cuisine, and much more... Welcome back to Sri Lanka. It's still fun and safe!
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena sought the assistance of Honorary Consuls based in Colombo to encourage foreign investors to invest in Sri Lanka. The Minister made this request at a meeting held yesterday (11 January) with the Honorary Consuls based in Colombo, at the Foreign Ministry. The meeting was held in compliance with the Covid-19 health guidelines.
Minister Gunawardena further reiterated the importance of mutually assisting each other to revive the world economy, as a collective effort amidst the pandemic.
Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, speaking to the gathering, explained that the weather conditions of the previous year had a positive impact on the tea production of the country. Hence, Sri Lanka is in an advantageous position to market its quality tea worldwide.
The President of Myanmar U Win Myint has decided to confer the Honorary Religious Title of “Aggamahāpaṇḍita” on four Sri Lankan Buddhist monks and several other Honorary Titles on three Buddhists Priests and one Layman from Sri Lanka, in honor of the 73rd Anniversary of the Independence Day of Myanmar.
Ven. Mihiripenne Sobhita Thero, Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Viharaya, Dehiwala, Ven. Dr. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sanha Rakkhita Maha Thero, Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya and Kithsirimevan Raja Maha Viharaya, Ven. Tirikunamale Ananda Mahanayka Maha Thero, Sri Amarapura Dharmarakshitavamsa Maha Nikaya and Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Maha Nayaka Thero, Sri Kelayanivasa, Amarapura Maha Nikaya have been conferred with the Aggamahapandita Title .
The Foreign Ministry will continue facilitating repatriations without any financial burden on Sri Lankans, the Foreign Secretary asserted responding to misinformation in the public domain. Secretary Jayanath Colombage made it clear that the role of the Missions is strictly confined to organizing repatriation flights for returnees who are tested on arrival, offered all logistical support and are quarantined at Government facilities free of charge.
The returnees are drawn from the list of overseas Sri Lankans registered in the Missions and Posts and repatriated depending on their vulnerability levels and on a “first come first serve basis“. Foreign Employment Bureau and their representatives are working with our missions on the safe return of the expatriate working community on the same basis in relation to availability of flights and clearance by Airport Authorities in the relevant countries. The number of passengers who are permitted to travel per day, however, is determined by the Task Force chiefly based on a periodical appraisal and inputs provided by the Army in charge of quarantine centres and the Ministry of Health which is entrusted with the task of implementing health guidelines.
In circumstances where the local quarantine and medical care facilities are fully stretched, repatriation on payment basis becomes an option for those returnees who could afford such facilities.
Charter flights for overseas Sri Lankans are approved and organized through Sri Lanka Missions on the request of Sri Lankan community groups who prefer paid quarantine, testing and other logistical arrangements involved in the repatriation process.
Cargo flights and a few selected commercial flights are also approved by the Ministry for repatriation, a third type of facilitation offered to relatively small groups of passengers who could afford to pay for quarantine and other requirements involved and a maximum of 75 passengers per flight are permitted as per the latest directive of the Covid Task force.
The General Sales Agents (GSA) of respective Air Lines have been authorized to deal with the passengers on charges of Air tickets, PCR tests and quarantining and the Diplomatic Missions have not been mandated to handle payments whatsoever concerning the travel requirements except for extremely special cases of requests for such facilitation.
As the pandemic situation remains fluid and unpredictable a regular re-appraisal is undertaken, based on which the process of repatriation is periodically reviewed.
08 January 2021
UNDP Resident Coordinator Robert Jukham presented a copy of the UNDP Human Development Report 2020 to Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on 5 January 2021 at the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena appreciated the UNDP’s cooperation with Sri Lanka and expressed his appreciation of UNDP’s response to Covid-19 early interventions. He mentioned that free education and health policies of Sri Lanka, among other things, have significantly contributed to the country’s achievements in human development. He underscored the commitment of the Government towards achieving Sustainable Development as stated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his inaugural speech. The Minister went on to discuss a wide range of issues affecting the people, for instance micro financing schemes and related vulnerabilities, improvement in digital infrastructure and human-elephant conflict. Special emphasis was paid to areas where the UNDP can work in collaboration with Sri Lanka in addressing the issues including those related to the SDGs.