(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –Manusha Nanayakkara, new Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment has said that $ 500 million a month worker remittances should be brought to Sri Lanka through migrant workers to find solutions to the gas queues, petrol queues, power cuts and shortage of medicines.
Addressing a press conference held at the Ministry of Labor today (23), Minister Nanayakkara requested the Sri Lankan migrant workers to be a part of the initiative to draw $500 million a month to the country to alleviate the problems faced by the Sri Lankan people at present.
“Today, many serious problems have arisen in this country, the economy of this country has collapsed, the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and debt repayment has become serious. People are starving, economically collapsed and waiting in gas and fuel queues. Also, people die in hospitals due to lack of medicines. The children are screaming in pain.”
“At a time when many people are afraid to solve the problem of these people, when many took a step back from taking responsibility due to the fear that some messages say that the dollar problem cannot be resolved easily, when many thought that taking responsibility will ruin the political future, we took the responsibility to solve the problems of the people of this country because we believe we should contribute. We accepted the challenge. Accepted the responsibility.”
The Minister said today, the government is working together to address issues such as gas queues, oil queues, power cuts, shortage of milk powder and medicines.
The government has discussed these issues with the Governor of the Central Bank and asked how much money was needed to solve these problems.
“He told us that if we received $ 500 million a month from migrant workers, we would be able to eliminate queues, give people medicine and stop power cuts,” the Minister added.
“The immediate thing we can do at this time is to increase the remittances from foreign workers to Sri Lanka from $ 200 -300 million to $ 500 million per month. We ask migrant workers whether they are ready to accept this responsibility.
The Minister said the migrant workers have complained that their money is going in the wrong direction and request a program to bring the money in the right way and to provide some assistance for it.
“If $ 500 million is sent to this country through the right banks, these queues can be eliminated. We can alleviate the suffering of the people of our country. We guarantee that the money will be used for that purpose.”
We invite you to become a stakeholder in this $ 500 million. We propose to the Cabinet today to increase the relevant relief in sending that money, giving the opportunity to obtain duty relief on the amount of money sent. We also propose to issue a vehicle import permit if a sum of 100,000 dollars is sent to Sri Lanka within a year. I also propose to grant some tax relief. We also propose to provide a low interest housing loan in comparison to remittances sent to Sri Lanka. We also propose to provide loans at concessionary interest rates. Also, if at least $ 50,000 has been sent, we request that a scoring system be developed for admission to schools and institutions of higher learning.”
“We also propose to implement a relief program in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Lands to provide government lands to migrant workers on the basis of remittances. We are also introducing a special card for expatriate workers. Many companies have come forward to offer discounts through that card to the families of migrant workers upon their arrival in Sri Lanka. We will provide that discount not only to the migrant worker but also to their family.”
The Minister further said that a special counter should be set up at the airport to welcome those who send such dollars to the country. He noted that information has been received that there is less care in checking their luggage.
“We will pay attention to this and discuss with the relevant institutions and provide assistance. This card will be important there.”
Minister Nanayakkara said if migrant workers facing problems in the employer’s country have difficulty finding solutions to those problems through the Sri Lankan embassies, they can contact the Minister directly on hsi WhatsApp number 0777 44 2500. He requested the migrant workers to send a recording of their problems via WhatsApp messages.
“At a time when this country is in a difficult situation, we invite you to become a contributor of the $ 500 million. The problem of this country cannot be solved by taking loans. Borrowing makes people more indebted. We need to build the manufacturing economy of this country and if you, who are working abroad, help us to get this amount of dollars, we will be able to contribute in a way that this country does not need to borrow anymore,” the Minister emphasized.
“You came to Sri Lanka in 2019 with the national flag. Now is the crucial moment for your support. I request you to become a partner of $ 500 million and rally to protect the country and the nation.”