In a significant move towards ensuring the safety and well-being of Sri Lankan migrant workers and enhancing economic prosperity, State Minister for Foreign Employment Promotion, Mr. Jagath Pushpakumara, has announced the development of a comprehensive national foreign employment policy. The policy has been submitted for approval to the Cabinet of Ministers, marking a milestone in Sri Lanka’s commitment to its overseas workforce.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Presidential Media Centre under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’, State Minister Jagath Pushpakumara outlined the pivotal achievements of his ministry within a year and its ambitious goals for the future.
“When we took over this ministry, the country was in a situation where it could not even pay for an oil ship coming to this country. But due to the far-sighted decisions taken by President Ranil Wickremesinghe after assuming the office of President, we have been able to make many significant transformations in the field of foreign employment within a short period of one year,” noted State Minister Pushpakumara.
The development of a national foreign employment policy, supported by experts, is a key highlight of the ministry’s achievements. This policy aims to safeguard the rights and security of Sri Lankan expatriate workers and has been submitted for Cabinet approval, reflecting the government’s commitment to their welfare.
Additionally, the State Minister emphasized the ministry’s efforts to combat human trafficking, enhance judicial and investigative activities, and further regulate foreign employment agencies through a comprehensive revision to the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Agency Act.
In terms of remittances, State Minister Pushpakumara expressed optimism about reaching the target of US $ 7000 million annually, as set by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2022. He highlighted that in 2022, 311,056 Sri Lankans registered through the Foreign Employment Bureau to work abroad, and by July 2023, nearly 200,000 had already registered for overseas employment. The total amount of foreign remittances received in 2022 was US $ 3789.40 million, with US $ 3363.6 million received by July 2023.
The State Minister also addressed concerns about illegal money transfers through unregulated channels, stressing the potential harm such practices can inflict on innocent people and urging adherence to legal and transparent remittance channels.
In addition to these accomplishments, State Minister Pushpakumara highlighted various initiatives aimed at improving the lives of migrant workers and their families. These include free insurance for all Sri Lankans registering for foreign employment, scholarships for the children of low-income migrant workers, relief for returning workers after accidents abroad, and extensive training programs to prepare individuals for overseas employment.
The State Minister underscored the importance of registering with the Foreign Employment Bureau and working with registered foreign employment agencies to ensure safe and legal overseas employment. He urged the public to report any attempts by individuals or groups misusing government names to exploit unsuspecting job seekers.
Looking ahead, State Minister Jagath Pushpakumara outlined several upcoming initiatives, including low-interest multi-purpose loan programs, housing projects for expatriate workers, and bilateral agreements with countries to create high-earning labour opportunities.
In concluding remarks, the State Minister stated, “In my capacity as the Minister of State responsible for this portfolio, I implore the public to prioritize the registration process with the Foreign Employment Bureau and to seek overseas employment via formal work visas rather than tourist visas. It is of paramount importance to collaborate solely with registered foreign employment agencies, a list of which is duly publicized on the bureau’s official website. Should any individuals or groups solicit funds, misusing the names of Cabinet Minister or myself, under the guise of facilitating easy foreign employment, I beseech the public to promptly report such incidents to our investigative department. Rest assured, we will take immediate and appropriate action.”
State Minister Jagath Pushpakumara’s comprehensive approach to foreign employment endeavours to establish a secure, prosperous environment for Sri Lankan expatriate workers while actively contributing to the economic advancement of the nation.
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