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Allocate Rs.1 mn initial payment for foreign workers as incentives: Minister requests CBSL

Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has made a special request to the Central Bank to provide Rs. 1 million to agencies to supply as initial payment for domestic workers in some of the countries in the Middle East.

The payment would be made as an incentive to encourage the workers to send foreign revenue to Sri Lanka instead if depositing in banks in foreign countries.

The Minister said that a financial and technical audit would be carried out to ascertain whether the full amount would come to Sri Lanka legally as foreign exchange through Sri Lankan banks.

The Minister stated this during a special discussion held at the Central Bank recently.

“The main source of foreign exchange for our country is the earnings of migrant workers. Today, our country receives US $ 7 billion a year from them,” he said.

The Minister pointed out that urgent action should be taken to increase it to US $ 10 billion. “In addition to increasing the number of migrant workers and domestic workers, we can further increase the foreign exchange earnings of our country by sending skilled workers for employment abroad in various fields.”

“Many expatriate workers are tempted to deposit their money in the banks of those countries as the interest rates are higher than the bank interest rates in our country. Therefore, steps should be taken to increase the bank interest rate on their deposits and bring the earnings of migrant workers to Sri Lanka,” he further said.

He also said that there is no move to block employment opportunities available in the unofficial labor market and added that the existing barriers should be minimized.

He said that it was the responsibility of the agency owners to look into the welfare of those sent for employment by foreign employment agencies. “They should provide a report on the welfare measures taken by the agency owners on our workers who were helpless abroad due to Covid in the past,” he concluded.