Cabinet proposal today to raise migrant workers’ duty free allowance
- Manusha says benefit only for those remitting forex through official channels
- Discussions to increase minimum wage of private and estate sectors in July
By Safrah Fazal
A Cabinet proposal is to be presented today (27) to increase the duty free allowances for migrant workers who use official banking channels to send foreign remittances to the country.
Speaking to The Morning yesterday (26), Minister of Labour and Foreign Affairs Manusha Nanayakkara said: “Duty free allowances will be increased according to the amount remitted through banking channels.”
Nanayakkara said that in addition to this, subsequent to discussions with banks, proposals are now being finalised to introduce a low-interest housing loan scheme to migrant workers. The Minister added that the interest will be borne by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE).
He further said that a proposal was submitted to Cabinet to permit the import of electric vehicles for migrant workers, relative to the amount remitted through legal channels.
“The Cabinet decision will be made on Monday, and will take a few days to carry it out accordingly,” he said.
Following Nanayakkara’s ministerial appointment last month, several incentives were introduced to migrant workers in a bid to encourage the inflow of foreign remittances to the US dollar-deprived nation. Discussions are currently underway to increase the monthly minimum wages of private and estate sector workers in an effort to lessen their financial burden.
Nanayakkara also said that the Wages Board is holding discussions to increase the minimum wages of both private and estate sector workers.
Nanayakkara, who did not wish to divulge details as to the minimum monthly salary that is being discussed at present for private sector workers, said that both employees and employers will discuss and arrive at a mutually satisfactory decision.
“We are making preparations to present it to Parliament as soon as a decision has been reached,” he said.
In the case of estate workers, the Minister stated that meetings have been scheduled for the first week of July with the relevant board members as estate sector TUs have also requested an increase in the monthly minimum wages of estate workers.
“We are not certain of the exact time as to when this will be implemented because we have to consult the Finance Ministry and other relevant authorities. We are duty-bound to consider the opinion of the estate owners as well. We are hoping to arrive at a decision by the end of July,” he said.
Speaking to The Morning yesterday, Commissioner General of Labour B.K. Prabath Chandrakeerthi said that TUs representing the private sector are requesting to increase the minimum monthly wage to Rs. 26,000, similar to the estate workers’ increment granted last year. “We are not certain if we can provide this amount, but we shall see once the discussions are complete.”
Chandrakeerthi further stated that owing to the crisis situation, employers are also going through a tough phase in their businesses, and discussions will have to take place with both parties before a fair decision is reached.