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IL&FS urges Exim Bank to release funds to end Ethiopian hostage crisis

IL&FS has urged the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) to release funds to secure the release of four employees still held hostage in Ethiopia by local staff.
In a letter to the Exim Bank, Dilip Bhatia, CEO of 
IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd (ITNL), said the company has sought 4.89 million Ethiopian birr (ETB) from the bank. The local employees of IL&FS’ joint venture in Ethiopia, ITNL-Elsamex JV Bure, have demanded an additional four months’ net salary for the release of the four Indian employees who have been held hostage since November 24. “This is a crisis our employees are facing in Ethiopia and it’s our humble request to kindly let these funds be unblocked to help our employees,” the ITNL letter dated January 8, 2019, seen by BusinessLine, states, adding that the bank should take a view on “humanitarian grounds”.
It also requests an additional 500,000 ETB to be “unblocked as emergency fund” to pay the stranded Indian employees, who reportedly do not have money for day-to-day expenses. These employees, as well as the three who have been released, haven’t been paid their salaries since July.
When contacted, Exim Bank said: “We have maintained our stand that unless IL&FS has enough funds in its accounts to service the payment ... being asked by the Ethiopian authorities, Exim Bank by itself is helpless to do anything.”
On whether the bank would reconsider its decision due to the humanitarian concerns involved, a source hinted that it is unlikely, given that “it is a bank and it operates under the rules of a bank”.
The company’s letter further says the local staff have agreed to release the captive employees only after receiving an additional 4.89 million ETB, as reported by BusinessLine on January 4, 2019.
They had initially demanded 12.5 million ETB but later scaled it down to 4.89 million ETB.

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