Sri Lanka doesn’t need Indian labour

- Mahinda Yapa


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

 Sri Lanka did not have any plans to hire Indian migrant farm workers to meet the shortage of labour during harvests, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Apeywardena said yesterday (26).

He was responding to a media report that he had on Sunday said that he was discussing with the Ministries of Agriculture and Defence and also the Department of Immigration and Emigration on the prospects of getting down Indian farm workers on three or six-month work visas.

The Minister told The Island that a small number of Indians were arriving on tourist visas and working illegally on farms in the Eastern province and some of them had been arrested by the police and deported.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka was facing a shortage of labour in all sectors as most of the people from the rural and urban areas were now migrating to foreign countries like Italy, Cyprus, Korea and Israel in search of employment and higher wages.

"Although there is an acute shortage of labour, there is absolutely no need to hire Indian migrant workers," Minister Yapa added.

Responding to a query, Abeywardena said that he had no plans to present a Cabinet paper on regularising the employment of farm workers from India.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Ministry Secretary W. A. Sakalasuriya said that Locals avoided working on farms because of the comparatively low wages. The government had no intention of using migrant workers as the country was still facing an unemployment issue, he added.

Currently, most illegal migrant workers come from Tamil Nadu in India.

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