Lanka seeks to cash in on booming job market
QATAR: Sri Lanka is looking to exploit rising opportunities for its
skilled workforce in Qatar. Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare
Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.
He said Qatar and Sri Lanka stood to gain from improving relations in
different sectors. The Minister is in Qatar on a four-day visit as part
of a tour of the region, which covers Kuwait and Libya. Qatar is his
Rambukwella said his Ministry was constituted by President Mahinda
Rajapakse to fully utilise opportunities opening up worldwide for the
“As part of the process, Sri Lanka has identified 23 destinations
where our professionals could find employment in the coming years and
Qatar, because of its enormous development in various sectors, in
particular in construction, is ranked amongst the top in the list,”
“However, we strongly feel that the job of our Ministry doesn’t end
with sending people for employment abroad. The country has a
responsibility to protect them as well.” The minister said more than 1.5
million Sri Lankans are working abroad and Qatar has about 80,000 of
“Our country is now focusing on reducing the number of women folk
working abroad, as part of a social drive because of a number of
domestic compulsions,” he said.
The Minister said Sri Lanka greatly felt the need to keep its mothers
with their children at home because of social issues.
Family relations are being hit by the absence of mothers employed as
housemaids or in other similar positions abroad, he said. Rambukwella
said Sri Lanka has been very successful in reducing the numbers of women
abroad and as of now, not more than 53 per cent of overseas workers were
women. He pointed out that about 32,000 Sri Lankans arrived in the
country last year and of them at least 27,000 are men.
The Minister said external remittances were among the top priorities
of his country and last year more than $2.5 billion reached Sri Lanka.
Answering a question, Rambukwella said the Qatari Minister for Labour
and Social Welfare Sultan Hassan al-Dhabit al-Dousari recently said the
number of Sri Lankans in Qatar would double by the end of this year and
at least 200,000 Sri Lankans would find employment in this country next
At present there are about 80,000 Sri Lankan nationals in Qatar,
according to embassy sources.
The Minister said Sri Lanka has introduced insurance and pension for
its migrant workers to cushion them when they return.
Regarding MOUs with countries employing Sri Lankans, Rambukwella said
Qatar was one of the first countries to accept Colombo’s proposals and
officials here had not raised any objections when he decided to hike the
minimum wages of Lankan migrant labourers earlier this year.