9/19/2010

Sri Lanka is no more a destination of cheap labor for investors

(September 19, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity - Ajith Perakum JayasingheSri Lanka appears no more an oasis of cheap labor for foreign investors in manual labor is prime. That is not because the majority of Sri Lankans have better living standards now. The reason is that life conditions are so difficult that a few rupees thrown by factory owners as salary cannot save them from misery.

Reports say that the garment and other similar factories country wide have around 30,000 regular and increasing number of unfilled vacancies.

Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BOI) says that 7000 positions are vacant in the BOI investment zones alone island wide.

Vacancies are unfilled of the skilled and unskilled workers in the garment, furniture, diamond, rubber, plastic and electronic trades, BOI says.

More than 1000 vacancies are available in Katunayaka, Seethawaka, Biyagama and Mawathagama export zones, according to BOI. Over 600 vacancies are unfilled in Wathupitiwala export zone. Around 300 vacancies are available in Koggala. Hundreds of unfilled positions are in other investment zones as well.

Trade unions say that the reason for less attraction of workers in investment zones is the lower salary.

A recent report of the Medical Research Institute of the Ministry of Health stated that 20%of Sri Lankans are in extreme poverty and they depend on less than 2 $ income per day. Basic salary of most of these factories is around or just above 2 $ per day. Sri Lanka is a country with high cost of living.

Especially, the price of food is extremely high due to government taxes on imports. The category of people mentioned above spend 60% of their daily income for food.

Anyone can understand why the workers from far away areas are not attracted in work in export zones as it happened earlier. One time, young girls of poor families of remote villages worked in these factories to earn their living and to save for their dowry. Nowadays, the salary of these factories is not sufficient even to pay for food and lodging. Why to come and waste time?

Many village women still opt to migrate to Arab countries since they are paid in foreign currency and they can have free food and lodging although salary is meager.

Of the 1.8 million Sri Lankan expatriate workers, the vast majority is the women from poor families. They are the major source of foreign income of Sri Lanka that is ruled by a bunch of fat male asses.

Sri Lanka expects Rs. five billion as remittance this year.

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