Sunday Observer - October 10, 2010
By Lalin FERNANDOPULLE
The Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) will launch a web-based system to nab errant job agents and minimise malpractices in the overseas employment sector, said Chairman, SLBFE, Kingsley Ranawaka.
He said the data system will be launched next month and it will help reduce malpractices and ill treatment of overseas workers.
The web system will include information on job order approvals, migrant worker agreements, local and foreign agents and foreign missions.
Ranawaka said the program will help those planning to go overseas to obtain correct information on job opportunities, salaries, working conditions and labour laws in various countries.
The web system will help those seeking jobs overseas to avoid bogus job agents and seek authentic sources to get to their destination.
Ranawaka said departure approval will not be given to job seekers if agents do not provide information on job opportunities and salaries.
Bogus job agents swindle large amounts of money from people promising lucrative jobs overseas. Many have been taken for a ride by errant job agents due to lack of information.
"The SLBFE trains and educates those seeking foreign employment but many do not make use of the facilities. Job seekers are taking a huge risk by going through illegal agencies", Ranawaka said.
"The SLBFE will raid bogus agencies immediately if it receives information of such places. The Bureau encourages people to provide information of illegal agencies", he said.
The SLBFE Act was amended last year and the minimum fine for a bogus agent was increased from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 100,000 with four years imprisonment.
SLFBE is responsible for overall management, operations and regulating the foreign employment business in the country.Sri Lankans working overseas are the largest foreign exchange sector of the economy.
The country's annual foreign remittance is around US$ 3 billion which is similar to export earnings from garments.
Ranawaka said job opportunities in Europe are gradually increasing and already agents have sent people to the region.
"Employment for Korea which was drastically low due to the global financial crisis has rapidly regained since last April and Korean training is done at an increased level", he said.
SLBFE declared that pre-departure training which was mandatory for housemaids has now been made mandatory for male employees to the Middle East .
SLBFE opened its seventh provincial office in the Sabaragamuwa province at the Divisional Secretariat, Ratnapura recently.