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MESSAGE FROM THE HON.MINISTER

Hon. Harin Fernando

Ministry of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure & Foreign Employment

It is my honor and pleasure to be appointed as the Minister in-charge of Foreign Employment in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. 

Foreign Employment is the largest source of foreign exchange ( FOREX) earner for the Sri Lankan economy and biggest net contributor for our GDP therefore I believe and will ensure our foreign employment workers gets more respect, more benefits and greater acknowledgement which they deserve. 

My role and vision as the Minister is to move away from traditional foreign employment practices and processes and bring greater transparency, compliance and regulatory processes related to employing Sri Lankan workers so our people’s security, welfare, health and safety receive the highest priority upholding all human and labour rights of the migrant workers in line with International Labour Organization (ILO). As we all know, ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations or “ UN “ dedicated to improving labour conditions and living standards throughout the world. 

It is my key priority to ensure we achieve following objectives during my tenure as the Minister. 

       Move up the value chain so our people become skilled, honest and diligent workers which in return will help us to secure higher paying jobs, long term contracts as well as our Ministry to open up newer and more attractive markets. 

       To adopt a single window automation with Telecom and IT process and bring a true digital transformation to pre and post recruitment process so not only we achieve greater efficiencies, better transparency and convenience whilst striving to minimize, eliminate and eradicate fraud, malpractices and human smuggling. 

    To give the highest confidence and the guarantee to countries, governments, immigration authorities, law enforcement authorities and employers that the workers that enter in to their country are of highest integrity and also upon finishing their contractual obligation they will return back to Sri Lanka unless the emplyear and employee mutually agree to extend the contract. 

       To give greater confidence, reliability and trust about Sri Lankan workers as the best in its category so people distinguish itself from their peers and other competing nations thus we become the most preferred labour and foreign worker exporting country in the world. 

       Ensure our workers receive the maximum Government recognition and benefits upon their return to Sri Lanka. An improved and more meaningful pension scheme will be rolled out. 

       Regulate and standardize incentives, benefits, allowances for the workers returning back to Sri Lanka so they have a better and safer tomorrow with higher savings, prudent and legitimate investments. 

       To ensure our workers who go overseas and their families in Sri Lanka receives the highest priority in health, banking assistance ( higher NRFC interest rates ), legal aid in case of an emergency, diplomatic support, Health / Life insurance and also the best national schooling opportunities for their children. 

       Ensure our workers receive the best skills training and development prior to their departure and also get a detail orientation pertaining to the laws, rules, social etiquette, cultural and religious practices in the visiting country so they have better preparation and awareness. 

It is the duty of His Excellency the President, Hon Prime Minister as well as the Government to ensure maximum welfare of the families of our expatriate workers and I as the Minister will not compromise this policy. In appreciation and acknowledgement of the foreign workers, we will propose to create a Pension Scheme for expatriate workers as well as to increase the rates of interest on Non Resident Foreign Currency Accounts (NRFC ) and Duty Free Allowances of the returning workers. 

Myself as the Minister and my officials will work tirelessly to enter in to memoranda of understanding with several European, Mediterranean, Pacific Islands and Asian countries in addition Middle Eastern countries which is in operation with the view to seeking new employment opportunities and higher paying jobs with attractive benefits and better working conditions. 

The Ministry will look at private public partnership (PPP) projects in setting up schools and skills development centers across the country to carryout courses and diplomas promoting better knowledge, education and skills in line with the demand categories which have a higher earning potential. 

The Ministry and myself will continuously look at ways and means of developing and expanding its services and facilities to generate more employment opportunities for citizens while ensuring their right to engage in a foreign employment in the conditions where freedom, dignity, respect, security and gender, race, religion equality assured.