Lanka hails Saudi amnesty plan

The new Sri Lankan Ambassador Vadivel Krishnamoorthy in Jeddah has thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for the generous amnesty granted to the illegal expatriates either to rectify their status or go back to their homeland, Arab News reported today.
“The amnesty has benefited all undocumented Sri Lankan expatriate workers stranded in the Kingdom. Many Sri Lankans have been able to legalize their status by changing employers and obtaining a new Iqama, or by obtaining temporary travel documents to return home,” the envoy noted.
He added that the Sri Lankan missions in Riyadh and Jeddah have documented some 17,000 cases under the amnesty granted by the king. The scheme has facilitated for illegal workers either to go home or work here respectably, he noted.
“Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia have maintained close bilateral ties for several decades and I hope that my tenure here as ambassador will see these historic ties further strengthened,” Kirshnamoorthy said.
Sri Lanka set up its embassy in Jeddah in 1983 with Dickman De Alwis as its first charge d’ Affaires, subsequently in 1993, Saudi government reciprocated with a mission in Colombo with Abdullah Al-Zahrani as its charge d’ Affaires. Later, the Lankan embassy moved its location to the capital in 1985.
The new envoy also thanked the Kingdom for the donations and investments bestowed upon the Sri Lanka people to help them build a prosperous society after the end of the civil war.
“I am also happy to acknowledge the loan given to us by the Saudi Development Fund (SFD) to help us develop our infrastructure,” he noted, adding that the longest bridge in Kinniya was recently completed the with SFD funds.
Besides the construction of the bridge, the SFD has contributed a great deal to fund hospitals and road construction projects in the island. The Epilepsy Center and the Trauma Center at the Colombo National Hospital were built with the assistance of the SFD.
Speaking about his country, the ambassador said that it has eradicated terrorism thereby ending the civil conflict, which had been plaguing the country for more than three decades.
“With the end of the 30-year conflict, Sri Lanka has successfully created a peaceful environment within the country during the past few years. Moreover, Sri Lanka has already managed to achieve tremendous development after the conflict. We also know that independence is an empty word without economic strength and social progress,” he stressed.
“We in Sri Lanka, under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, are also engaged with the task of building for our people a new world of economic prosperity and social progress to build a prosperous nation,” he added.
“Although we have a considerable amount of bilateral trade, there is still huge potential to enhance it further by diversifying the trade baskets,” he said.
“Extending our trade relationship into the areas of tourism, software development, health care, and agriculture will open vast opportunities to further consolidate our bilateral cooperation further,” he added.
Prior to his posting, Krishnamoorthy was attached to his External Affairs Ministry as its Director General for the South-East Asia and SAARC.