Govt. wooing expat engineering brains

By Ravi Ladduwahetty

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala de Silva said he was ready to recruit 200 senior expatriate engineers right now as there was a pressing need for expertise. The Ministry was working on a programme to make attractive offers to lure Sri Lanka engineers working overseas to return, he said.

The Minister said so in answer to a question by the media why the government was employing foreign engineers to implement local projects while Sri Lankan engineers were working overseas.

Minister de Silva was attending a conference organised by his Ministry at the Mahaweli Centre last Saturday on issues relating to water supply, irrigation and also seed paddy.

"Why these engineers are staying overseas is understandable as they earn much more than their counterparts here and that is the reason why we are planning on an attractive remuneration package so that they could return to serve their motherland without foregoing their income."

The Minister said it was not the government policy to recruit foreign engineers to carry out local project but where some foreign funded projects were concerned, engineers nominated by the donors had to be employed. Some of those projects also had Sri Lankan Engineers, he said

Asked what the projected paddy harvest for the Maha season 2012 was in the context of a crop failure during Yala owing to a severe drought, Minister de Silva said he was wary of giving ballpark figures and the situation will have to be realistically assessed. "We have asked farmers to harvest rainwater as far as possible and if they are not satisfied, we advised them to go in for cash crops which require less water. "However, our farmers first choice is paddy as its cultivation involves only 20 days of work," the Minister said, adding that farmers also would soon get used to cultivating cash crops as and when the need arose.

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