( Let’s appreciate migrant workers, the heroes of our economy)

18th December is designated International Migrant’s Day. The Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment are making arrangements to commemorate the International Migrant’s Day on 18th December 2011, on an elaborate scale at District level. The programme is under the theme: “Dirisariya – Let’s appreciate migrant workers, the heroes of our economy” [දිරි සැරිය - විනිමය දිනු රට විරු උපහාර].

It is estimated that over 1.7 Million Sri Lankans work outside the country and have remitted approximately US $ 4.1 Billion in 2010. This remittance income is by far the highest foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka, providing 33% of her foreign exchange and it amounts to 8% of Sri Lanka’s GDP. The contribution made by Sri Lankan Migrant Labour Force has exceeded the income received from traditional export income generating sectors such as Tea, Coconut, Rubber, Gem and Garments.

The main purpose of the celebrations, scheduled for the 18th, is to highlight among the general public the importance of the contribution made to the Sri Lankan economy by our brothers and sisters who are working aboard under difficult conditions. It is expected that the educational and awareness raising programmes arranged would help increase appreciation and respect for our migrant workers in our society. Furthermore, programmes on the 18th would publicize advice related to safe migration, reputed recruitment agencies in Sri Lanka and the welfare measures arranged by the SLBFE.

While the celebrations are scheduled to take place island wide, the Colombo District event is scheduled to begin at 8.30 a.m. from a point opposite the Presidential Secretariat and will be graced by His Excellency the President. It includes the cancelling of a First Day stamp cover, issuance of a Migrant Card, which combines the data of the migrant worker and a debit card, a migration walk with the participation of about 2,000 from the migration community and a vehicle parade with educational floats.

We would like all public servants, Government Agents, Grama Niladarees, Police Officers, families of migrant workers and others to join hands with the local SLBFE office on the 18th December, to appreciate our migrant workers, the heroes of our economy.