For the first time foreign remittance to Sri Lanka will touch the US $ 10 billion mark by the end of this year. This was US $ six billion last year.
Currently there are over 1.7 million Sri Lankan employees based overseas and this figure would also reach the two million mark by the end of the year. Chairman Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Agency, Senaka Abeygoonasekera, said the main reason for this was that Sri Lankan workers have found employment in new markets and they were also engaged in better jobs. He said that today there is also a shift to move away from ‘House Maids’ and ‘labour’ jobs to more industrial and other skilled employment jobs.
In addition new markets in Korea and the Gulf were also yielding more remittance to the country since employees set higher wages.
The chairman said that when President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the minister of labour he discouraged Sri Lankans working as ‘house maids’ and also signed up agreements with countries like Korea for new employment opportunities for Sri Lankans.Abeygoonesekera said that Minister of Foreign Employment, Dilan Perera held a series of ‘Road Shows’ all over the world which opened out new employment opportunities for Sri Lankans.
He said that due to the efforts made by the bureau they have successed in obtaining 100 jobs in McDonalds in Kuwait. ‘This would be idle for school leavers and they would provided accommodation, lodging and salaries in the excess of Rs 130,000,” he said.
The Bureau also succeeded in obtaining 500 jobs in Qatar for Sri Lankan taxi drivers. They too would be paid over Rs 130,000 and would be provided with Hybrid taxies with GPS and wifi.
One of the unique features of this employment is that the drivers get the opportunity to own these taxies and operate it as their own business.
The agency which is a government owned venture, recently sent skilled workers to Malaysia to work in a cannon assembly plant and an IT company. We are currently looking for candidates to send to an apparel factory in Mauritius. He said that currently there is a big demand from Norway, Sweden and Denmark for Sri Lankan skilled workers.
Commenting on the welfare and security of the Sri Lankan workers, he said that they now have an ‘in house’ insurance scheme with Sri Lanka insurance and Sri Lankan foreign missions are consulted when seeking employers.
He said due to efforts made by the ministry, today most of the Sri Lankan workers were going for foreign employment through 160 registered agencies.