By Leon Berenger
Foreign employment agencies were yesterday fuming over a new age limit for Lankan workers heading to take jobs in the state of Doha , saying it would ruin employment prospects there.
The Lankan Embassy in that country has stated that those taking up employment in Doha should be above the age of 25 and not exceed 45 years, creating fears among employers who will now look elsewhere to fill vacancies, Faizer Mackeen, Secretary of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) said.
He said there has been a steady demand for Lankan hands in that country over the past few months with some 60,000 or more jobs lined up for next year alone.
“This new rule will only help to dampen this prospect and employers will turn elsewhere to countries such as Bangladesh , India , Pakistan and Nepal and the Sri Lankan market will be forced into the doldrums losing vital foreign exchange in the process,” Mr. Mackeen said.
He added that ALFEA had made strong representations to the highest authorities in the country to try and reverse this new rule but there has been a weak response.
“At no time did we endorse such a rule regarding the Doha station and it is purely a matter between the Lankan Mission in Qatar and the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo,” Mr. L. K. Ruhunuge the Additional General Manager of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB),” told the Sunday Times. He said this position had already been conveyed to ALFEA who were advised to take the matter up with the External Affairs Ministry officials handling the foreign labour desks.
An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson denied that such a new rule was imposed by the Embassy in Doha . “We have made this very clear to the SLFEB Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka,” he said without elaborating.