Call to provide DF vehicles for migrant workers

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By 2017-10-17

By Leon Berenger

A top trade union yesterday called on the Government to provide a duty free tax concession to enable migrant workers to purchase a vehicle such as a small car, three wheeler, hand tractor, motorcycle etc. that would enhance their status, while at the same time making them feel wanted in society.

"The migrant workers sector, which is the single largest foreign income earner for the State coffers, has remained a neglected lot for many decades despite their monetary contributions.

Many governments have come and gone, but this group was never recognized or appreciated and it's not too late to change this attitude, Palitha Athukorale, President of the National Union of Seafarers Sri Lanka (NUSSL) said.

He said, that a written appeal has already been sent to Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera urging him to accommodate the matter in the next budget. He added, that similar appeals were also made to the previous regime, but there was a zero response.

"Huge duty free incentives and other perks are showered on bureaucrats, doctors and even small-time regional politicians who have contributed very little towards the betterment of the country, but a deserving sector such at the migrant workers have been left in the cold.

This should never be the case and we are urging the government to have a re-think on this issue. At the end of the day this not a big ask", Athukorale said.

At present, there is an estimated one million Lankan migrant workers concentrated largely in West Asia and other foreign capitals.

Latest statistics revealed that the remittances from this sector topped US$ 9 billion for the year 2016.

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