Mrudu Naik
May 19, 2012

Goodwill visit: Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Dilan Perera.

Muscat: Sri Lanka and Oman are on the verge of signing a 'historic' Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the manpower sector, Dilan Perera, the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare who is on a visit to Oman to finalise the proposed draft of the MoU, said.

The pact will cover contract, training, welfare, recruitment, social security scheme and other aspects related to employment of Sri Lankan workers in Oman.

"I am happy to note that compared to other countries in this region, Oman has lots of Sri Lankan professionals working in important sectors and Omani employers have been treating Sri Lankan workers well,- Perera told Times of Oman. "When I met the Sri Lankan community here on Friday, I noticed they were a contented lot.

The number of complaints we receive from Sri Lankan workers in Oman is much less in comparison to other countries in the region. As a whole if you take the entire region, Oman has been treating our countrymen very well,- he said, while expressing happiness that many Sri Lankans doctors and engineers are working here.
Perera said: "I am very happy that we have successfully finalised the draft. The historic signing of agreement will address several issues that have already existed and will also take care of new ones which may crop up.-

The Sri Lankan minister met Oman's Minister of Manpower Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bakri. The MoU, which is likely to be signed in two months after approval from the Sri Lankan authorities.

Perera said, "For example, the MoU will deal with training aspect of the workers who leave Sri Lanka. It will also cover the exchange of trainers between the two countries so that a Sri Lankan arriving in Oman is compatible with the working conditions here. The MoU will also help the receiving country to know about the quality of training facilities available in Sri Lanka and the type of training to be imparted to workers to meet the needs in a foreign country.-

A joint commission will be set up to meet both in Sri Lanka and Oman to sort out various issues.

Perera also met Khalil Bin Abdullah Al Khonji, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

"My ministry believes that it is good to talk to OCCI because then we will know what kind of workers they are looking for. For instance, we are very happy to know that the OCCI is now ready to get Sri Lankan help to manage milk industry in this country.

This is an area where we can prepare Sri Lankans with the intention of getting employment here.- Talking about housemaids, the minister said, "After September 1, housemaids cannot leave Sri Lanka until they reach the national vocational qualification level 3. Besides, we raised the age bar to 21 and looking to increase it to 30.- However, he added, "As the minister in-charge, I must say that I discourage women leaving Sri Lanka to work as housemaids because it creates lots of social problems.-

The minister said that a mechanism is in the place in his country to apprise the employees with the terms and conditions in the contract. "Besides, Sri Lanka has the best laws to check illegal trafficking,- he said, while adding that his government was planning to introduce pre-departure cultural orientation, especially for those working as housemaids.

The Sri Lankan government will soon implement a migration pension scheme. "We want to tell the migrant workers that the ministry has not forgotten their contributions and that we will evolve a pension scheme so that when they come back home or reach the retiring age, they will be entitled to pension,- he said. The government will evolve a system of giving voting rights to workers living abroad.