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Tuesday April 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka looking to phase out sending women abroad as domestic workers over 10-year period

ECONOMYNYEXT — Sri Lanka, whose officially registered migrant work force was 40-percent women in 2022, is looking to phase out sending women overseas as domestic workers over a 10-year period and encourage them to seek high-paying skilled work abroad instead.

Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara in a discussion with representatives of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies has sought proposals to “completely stop sending Sri Lankan women overseas to work as housemaids”, a statement from the minister’s office said on Tuesday February 20.

“The Minister emphasised the importance of halting the practice of sending women for overseas employment as domestic workers and instead proposed that women should be encouraged to seek foreign jobs in high paying skilled categories of work,” the statement said, adding that views and suggestions of all stakeholders should be sought in this exercise.

According to the statement, the target should be to “completely halt Sri Lankan women migrating overseas for domestic work within the next 10 years and enhance prospects for them to seek employment in skilled categories instead”.

Reports of physical and psychological abuse of female migrant workers employed as domestic aids, particularly in the Middle East, abound. Numerous cases of women working in harsh working conditions have made headlines in Sri Lanka and elsewhere over the past several decades.

Official SLBFE data shows that over 74,000 Sri Lankans had registered with the bureau as “semi-skilled” “domestic housekeeping assistants” in 2022, a dramatic increase from the 29,000 registered in 2021. Sri Lanka saw an apparent wave of outbound migration in the wake of the 2022 currency crisis, with SLBFE recording the highest number of registrations (311,056) for migrant workers across all manpower categories since 2014 (300,703).

In 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic hit, total registrations (across all categories) were as low as 53,711, which increased to 122,887 in 2021. Registration of domestic workers stood at 15,000 in 2020, while 2021 saw over 29,000 registrations. The years 2019 and 2018 had recorded over 61,000 and 64,000 respectively in this category.

Notably, of the 311,056 total migrant workers registered in 2022, over 124,000 or nearly 40 percent were women. Of these women, nearly 60 percent were “semi-skilled” domestic workers.

According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), workers’ remittances increased notably to 475.7 million US dollars in June 2023 in comparison to 274.3 million in June 2022. Total workers’ remittances during the first half of 2023 amounted to 2,822.6 million dollars, the highest of which came from Kuwait followed by Qatar and UAE in the second quarter of 2023. Total departures for foreign employment amounted to 146,885 during the first half of 2023 recording a monthly average of 24,481, CBSL data showed.

Meanwhile, a recent study by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that a majority of Sri Lanka’s female migrant workers aim to return to the country the moment their immediate financial targets are met, with little or no plans for long-term economic sustainability.

Most female workers who travel abroad do so in search of income that would help finance their debt burdens and other financial difficulties back home and expect to return as soon as those financial targets are met, the IPS said in a statement authored by Research Assistant Manisha Weeraddana.

“In fact, these migrant workers rarely see the need for such reintegration as they do not understand the economic and labour market realities until they try to reassimilate into their lives back home,” IPS said. (Colombo/Feb21/2024)

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Iran President to open Sri Lanka $514mn irrigation, hydro power project

MULTIPURPOSE: Uma Oya multipurpose development project is the largest since the end of the Mahaweli projects.

ECONOMYNEXT – Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm and was also initially financed before international sanctions hit the project.

The Uma Oya (River) project will irrigate 4,500 acres of new agricultural land, generate 290 Gigawatt hours of electricity and also provide drinking water, a government statement said.

Sri Lanka had awarded an engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) to Iran’s FARAB engineering group to design and construct the 514 million dollar multipurpose project in 2010.

The project was funded until 2013 with a million US dollar credit from the Export Development Bank of Iran but international sanctions prevented the country from continuing financing, a government statement said.

The project continued with funding from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had since repaid 19.3 million dollars of the credit and 35.2 million remains outstanding.

The Uma Oya project has a 120MW of hydro power generators, which can generate 290 Giga Watt hours of energy.

Each year 145 million cubic metres of water will be taken from Uma Oya to the Kirindi Oya river valley after generating electricity in an underground power station.

It will irrigate 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural and 4,500 hectares of new land in the Moneragala district, where crops can be cultivated in both the Maha and Yala seasons.

About 39 million cubic meters of water will be used for drinking and industrial purposes.

Two reservoirs built at Dyraaba and Puhulpola in Uma Oya basin is connected by a 3.98 kilometre conveyance tunnel and water is taken through a 15.2 kilomtre headrace tunnel to an underground power station. A tailrace tunnel takes water from the power station to the Kirindi Oya basin.

The project was originally expected to be completed in 2015, but due to financing delays and later water leaking into the headrace tunnel and the Covid pandemic had delayed it. The project completion date was extended to March 31, 2024 and defect liability date to March 31, 2025.

(Colombo/April23/2024 – CORRECTED Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm.)

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Sri Lanka state oligopoly allowed to import some black gram

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has allowed the import of some black gram, by three state agencies, according to a gazette notice issued under the hand of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Import licenses will be given for 2,000 metric tonnes of the seed classified under HS Code 7312.31.22 and 29.

Sri Lanka State Trading Corporation, National Food Promotion Board and Sri Lanka Hadabima Authority is to be given import licenses.

Traders have resorted to smuggling some types of black gram (ulundu) mis classified as chick peas, to get over high taxes and import restrictions.

Tamil legislators have also protested the import controls, which they go into several key ethnic foods they consume. (Colombo/Apr23/2024)

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Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry consular division shifted to Battaramulla

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said it consular division would be shifted to the Suhurupaya building in Subuthipura, Battaramulla from May 02, 2024.

Document authentication services provided by the Consular Affairs Division in Colombo will be suspended on 29 and 30 April 2024 held transfer the Electronic Document Authentication System (e-DAS) to the new premises at Suhurupaya.

Urgent applications for authentication to the Consular Division in Colombo, or any Regional Consular Offices by 4.15 pm on 26 April 2024, the Foreign Ministry said.

Regional Consular Offices in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matara will remain open to accept applications.

Authenticated documents will be delivered to the applicants only on Thursday, 02 May 2024.

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