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Hon. Dilan Perera visited the Sultanate of Oman.

A delegation headed by the Hon. Dilan Perera, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare of Sri Lanka visited the Sultanate of Oman from 17 - 19th May 2012.

On 18th, the Minister had a meeting with the Sri Lankan expatriates’ community. The meeting discussed the topics on various issues such as expatriates’ right to vote, expatriates’ children’s higher education in the Sri Lankan Universities, duty free vehicle permits and duty free investment opportunities for Sri Lankan expatriates on their return to Sri Lanka.

The Minister said that the Government has appointed a panel of 5 cabinet members to explore the voting rights of the Sri Lankan migrant workers. University entrance for the children of migrant workers will be discussed with the Minister of Higher Education. For other issues Minister agreed to work with other Sri Lankan authorities to implement.

On 19th, the visiting Minister had a meeting with the Minister Responsible for Manpower of Oman. Matters pertaining to strengthening of cooperation between the Sultanate and Sri Lanka in labour, technical, educational and vocational training fields were discussed.

Both Ministers agreed that the proposed MoU on the field of Manpower between the two countries, which is at the final stages, could be signed on an early date during this year. They agreed to set up a joint commission to implement the MoU and to sort out various issues arising out of it.

The two Ministers discussed the measures taken by the governments to prevent illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

The Minister met the Chairman, Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industries. (OCCI), subsequently. They discussed a number of topics in the field of Manpower Industries and market opportunities. The Chairman expressed his interest to get the Sri Lankan support to develop the diary Industries in the Dhofar region.

On 19th evening, “Employment Promotion Road Show” – a promotional event for Manpower Recruiting Agents in Oman was also held. Omani Recruiting Agents discussed various issues with the Minister and delegation. The agents raised issues on commissions paid to the Sri Lankan agents, over aged domestic workers, payment of low salaries, nonpayment of salaries, direct recruitment by other channels etc.

The Minister in his response, said that Sri Lanka government does not encourage Sri Lankan females to leave the country due to social issues. He also proposed that instead of housemaids he prefers to call them as housekeepers.

He said that the commission paid to the agents is beyond the control of the Government and it is an understanding among the agents, in which the government does not wish to interfere. Minister also expressed his interest to send different categories like QSs, Engineers, Doctors, Nurses and Technicians to the Sultanate in future rather than sending domestic workers.

In future NVQ will be a compulsory requirement for all migrant workers who intend to go abroad for foreign employment.

He added it is a national policy designed to standardize the skills of migrant workers to the international level. The Minister explained to the audience that the SLBFE has implemented a grading system for local agents from 1 star to 4 stars. The highest ranking would be 4 stars and thereby, the Omani agents can check the star ranking of Sri Lankan counterparts to obtain better and honest service.

Manpower recruiting agents of both countries had a one on one meeting.