|Sri Lanka aims to tap Qatar
By Gagani Weerakoon
With Qatar being picked to host 2022 FIFA World Cup,
a job bonanza for construction workers has been
created in that country to put up the necessary
infrastructure, including new air-conditioned
Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau chairman
Kingsley Ranawake told The Nation that the bureau
would work outside the normal procedure in such a
situation to grab and fill whatever job
opportunities available in Qatar.
He said the bureau might even increase its cadre
strength to benefit from new opportunities.
“In many previous job booms, we could not supply the
workers when the demand suddenly went up. Normally
our strength is only adequate to supply limited
labour force and the prevailing procedure is you
supply according to the demand. In this particular
instance we can prepare in advance by increasing our
cadre strength at the Bureau,” he said.
He said a delegation would visit Qatar in future
to inspect prospective job opportunities while
adding that a team from Qatar is also expected to
visit Sri Lanka soon.
Qatar has recruited the highest number of skilled
workers during 2009 and the total number of Lankans
who departed for employment in Qatar last year was
43,744. Out of which, 20,330 were skilled workers
while some 11,142 were unskilled.
There were also 6,210 who took up jobs in Qatar as
housemaids in 2009.
The total number of Sri Lankans employed in Qatar is
estimated to be around 130,000.
It is estimated that population of Sri Lankan
employees working abroad is around 1.7 million.
Recorded sources of foreign exchange earnings show
that such employees earned Rs 382,801 million in
2009 which was 47.03% of total foreign exchange
earnings of the country.
According to records at the Sri Lanka Bureau of
Foreign Employment, the present outflow is over
200,000 per year.
The implementation of welfare packages for Sri
Lankan employees abroad and their family members
along with the compulsory registration system, has
seen a decline in the rate of workers obtaining
‘illegall and un-documented’ foreign employment, by
about 10 percent.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Jordan were the
major labour receiving countries that have captured
over 86% of Sri Lanka labour market in 2009. Saudi
Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan absorbed
around 80 percent of Sri Lankan employees in each
and every year during the period of 2004-2008 in
response to the government’s efforts to encourage
the recruitment of skilled labour employees to these