Italian and Israeli jobs for Sri Lankans soon - Minister Dilan
Extracts of an exclusive interview conducted
with Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera. He talks
about social welfare, migrant workers and new ventures of the Foreign
Q: What do you have to say about the Darusman Report?
A: The birth of the Darusman Report is illegitimate. It has no
mother or father. It has fallen from the sky. No legal base for it at
all. Its origin has no legality. Sri Lanka is an active, vibrant live
member of the UN. Sri Lanka always understands and respects the UN
system. The Secretary General is an elected member and therefore he has
to obtain the mandate of another UN arm to appoint a panel. Usually a
report drafted to advice someone is not get published in the media. Wide
publicity was given to the Darusman Report.
That is why Sri Lanka is now forced to respond to this illegitimate
illegal public document. Facts in this one sided report are fabricated
and are utter lies and nonsense based on rumours and hearsays. We met 23
foreign ministers and representatives from foreign countries during the
16th Non Aligned Foreign Ministers’ Conference held in Bali and
explained Sri Lanka’s stand.
Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera
When Osama bin Laden was killed, Americans celebrated jubilantly. Sri
Lankans had the same experience and feeling when the LTTE Leader was
killed. That is why they celebrated it. Sri Lankans had the same right
to celebrate it. Osama bin Laden was killed in a foreign land and he was
Prabhakaran was killed in Sri Lanka and he was well armed. Now Sri
Lanka has been building harmony among communities. This racial report
creates divisions in Sri Lankan community.
Q: Why did the government try to bring a pension scheme for
the private sector?
A: The government proposed a pension scheme for the private
sector because it was a long-standing demand of the private sector
workers. The private sector workers had been asking for it for a long
time. President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivers more and talks less.
He brought it keeping a promise made to the private sector workers by
him. There were areas that need to be discussed.
There was a constructive dialogue going on with the Finance Ministry
Secretary in connection with the changes that should be done regarding
the private sector pension scheme.
The differences had been ironed out. At that moment the JVP launched
its usual plan.
As usual the JVP started the protest from the FTZ in order to get
someone killed. The Police assisted them in achieving their evil target.
IGP took a historical decision to step down from his position.
From the beginning the JVP got a person killed and then sold his body
and blood stained clothes in order to gain political advantage. Selling
dead bodies to grab power is the traditional and popular method used by
The JVP has been practicing this method from the beginning and
undergraduates and many others were became their victims in the past.
The JVP tries to win people by killing a person and selling his body
and blood stained clothes because they have already been totally
rejected by the people.
They try the same at international level using Sri Lankan migrant
workers but failed to do so.
One example is their failed mission took place at a factory in Jordan
recently where they tried to use Sri Lankan workers. The JVP has a plan
to attack economic nerve centres of Sri Lanka.
The JVP lost power because they did nothing when they had almost 40
seats in Parliament and some Cabinet Ministries. People rejected them.
The JVP does not know the words `yes’ and `can’. They only know one
word. That is `no’. That is why people rejected them.
Q: How are you going to address the social issues created by
mothers being employed as housemaids in foreign countries?
A: Sri Lankan women are now being discouraged to go abroad as
housemaids by the Foreign Employment and Welfare Ministry while
promoting foreign employments for skilled, semi skilled and
professionals. The minimum age limit for housemaids had been increased
from 18 to 21 with the intention of discouraging them to seek foreign
employments as housemaids and this age is to be increased up to 30 years
soon to further discourage them. The maximum age limit to be brought
down from 50 to 45. This will solve all related social problems arise
when mothers go abroad as housemaids leaving their families here in Sri
The Foreign Employment Bureau will soon go into partnerships with
several foreign countries and companies using Article 25 of Foreign
Employment Bureau Act No.21 of 1985 in order to obtain better foreign
employment for Sri Lankans. Sri Lankans will get job specific training,
company specific training and country specific training to get foreign
jobs. Sri Lankan nurses and care givers will get employments in Israel
and some other countries by mid next year. Discussions are now being
held with the Health Ministry in connection with this. Soon Sri Lankans
will be able to get employment in Italy legitimately. The Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) in connection with this programme has already been
finalized and it will be signed soon. In the past many fall into trouble
and lose money and even lives while trying to go to Italy illegally in
search of jobs.
Another new employment opportunity with higher salaries is available
in Qatar and similar countries for Sri Lankans with least educational
qualifications. It is ‘Window Cleaning’.
This job does not require higher educational qualifications. But it
needs a proper training. Qatar and similar countries have a large number
of high-rise buildings with huge glass windows. Well-trained workers are
required to be employed as window cleaners to clean these windows. The
companies pay higher salaries for them. Sri Lankans will be trained with
the assistance of relevant foreign countries and companies in order to
employ them as window cleaners.
Q: How about the Sri Lankan housemaids who became victims of
murder and violence?
A: Now the Foreign Employment Bureau offers counselling for
the families of female migrant workers. Social integration is another
main programme implemented by the Bureau. Bank loans have been arranged
with some banks at low interest. Hereafter Sri Lankan housemaids will
not meet their employers at the airport. They will meet them in the Sri
Lankan embassy in the specific country. This new system ensures the
safety of Sri Lankan housemaids and Sri Lankan officials will know their
whereabouts and where their employers take them. The number of Sri
Lankan employees in safe houses and welfare camps in foreign countries
has been brought down to 100 from 300. They will be brought back to Sri
Q: What are the latest developments in the sector?
A: A new social security benefit scheme is to be introduced
soon in order to make sure that Sri Lankan migrant workers get all
required assistance when the agreements between them and their employers
are being violated and cause various problems. At the moment insurance
schemes do not cover the main requirement of our migrant workers.
That is various issues arise as a result of violation of agreements
between employees and employers.
Nearly 600 schoolchildren of migrant workers from the Western
Province received scholarships from President Mahinda Rajapaksa
recently. This is a part of the government’s scholarship programme
implemented for the benefit of children of migrant workers according to
a concept of the President. The programme was launched by President
Mahinda Rajapaksa in 1996 when he was holding the post of Labour
Minister. In 1996 the scholarship was awarded to 157 students belonging
to migrant workers. Annually 1,500 students receive this scholarship. In
2010 Rs.384, 185,000 were given to 1,579 students as scholarships under
Every child who gets through the Year Five scholarship examination
receives Rs. 15,000 and a student who passes GCE O/L and qualifies for
A/L receive Rs.20, 000. An undergraduate receives Rs.30, 000. All
students belong to all migrant workers in Sri Lanka receive this
scholarship. If one student gets all three scholarships he or she gets
Rs.65, 000. The programme to be extended to cover students who undergo
vocational training in other institutions. Arrangements will be made
soon to get discounts for the children of migrant professionals to study
in private universities in Sri Lanka. This will retain a significant
amount of foreign exchange in Sri Lanka.
Road shows conducted in Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai,
Abudhabi and Saudi Arabia. Some foreign employment agencies operating
from Sri Lanka were also participated in it. Over 25 representatives
from job agencies attended the road show in each country. Arrangements
have been made to grade foreign employment agencies. Hereafter migrant
workers will be educated on their rights.