May 31, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has minimized sending unskilled migrant workers to controversial sectors of employment in foreign countries, the Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Dilan Perera said.
Addressing a workshop organized by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment for media personnel today, the Minister said although the government has not banned sending housemaids to foreign countries, especially to Gulf countries, the government's policy is to send as many skilled workers as possible and minimize the number of unskilled workers migrating overseas for employment.
The government is not encouraging sending Sri Lankan women as housemaids, the Minister said, adding that the government has made it compulsory for the housemaids to obtain the national vocational skills.
The authority has introduced programs to train prospective migrant workers in specialized vocations with the intention of increasing the percentage of skilled workers while discouraging unskilled workers from going abroad.
The Minister said the Foreign Employment Bureau has been able to increase the income received through Sri Lankan migrant workers and the government has targeted US$ 7 billion in revenues by 2016. However the target has already been reached within this year, the Minister added.
According to the Minister, the government has implemented several programs for the welfare of the migrant worker families.
Several insurance schemes are available for the migrant workers and the Bureau also offers scholarships to the children of the workers. The children of migrant workers stand to receive important educational items.
The workers are offered low-interest housing loans and loans for self-employment upon their return.
A program to build houses for the families of the migrant workers is underway and the Bureau has received 12,000 applications, the Minister said. Under the program 1,000 houses have already been built and building another 3,000 houses has already been approved, he added.
A self-employment project has also been implemented for the benefit of the members of the migrant worker families.