A Dammam-based umbrella organization called the ‘Sri Lankan Migrant Workers Alliance’ (SLMWA) has submitted a twenty-page national budget proposal to the Finance Ministry of Sri Lanka ahead of the island’s annual budget to be presented in Parliament next month.
The set of proposals was focused on the welfare of migrant workers which includes issues related to monthly payments for migrant workers, as well as in relation to retired, deceased, disabled, harassed, injured and repatriated (for valid reasons) workers. Other issues addressed by the budget include the BOI (Board of Investments) grade investment plan for migrant workers (with tax holidays, import concessions & state land lease), concession permits for commercial vehicles, industrial machinery, equipment, and concessionary personal vehicles for professionals (in order to maintain their living standards back home), education investment funds to establish community schools for migrant workers and standardised air fares for migrant workers.
There are nearly two million Sri Lankan migrant workers whose families live in the Middle East and other parts of the world — a number that is increasing daily.
Around 60 percent of Sri Lanka’s total foreign exchange earnings are contributed by migrant workers, and approximately 70 percent of them come from the Middle East alone.
Rakeeb Jaufer, Chief of the SLMWA in Saudi Arabia, said: “This proposal was drafted with the support of 25 Sri Lankan professionals living across the world.” He continued: “The ‘Sri Lankan Migrant Workers Alliance’ is an umbrella organization formed to gather the Sri Lankan Migrant community under a single entity to protect their rights.”
“This project was undertaken primarily in recognition of the fact that Sri Lanka is one of the major exporters of man-power in the world, with 15-20 percent of its voters living outside the country,” according to Jaufer. “External rights and voting facilities are therefore an important democratic tool among migrants to help individuals become stakeholders in their country’s affairs,” he concluded. ( Arab News)